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What Do We Export to North Korea?

The U.S. has exported very little to North Korea this year, although that hasn’t always been the case. Tensions are reaching new heights, but U.S. exporters are still allowed to export to North Korea as long as the customer is not a person on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, nor a member of the Government of North Korea or Workers’ Party of Korea. Exporters must also receive a license from the Bureau of Industry and Security. However, with such an isolated and restrictive government, the export market for North Korea is scarce and this year it’s dwindled to a trickle.

So far in 2017, the U.S. has only exported one thing to North Korea – $2,660 of magnetic media for recording sound. In 2016, we sent a total of $139,000 worth of goods; in 2015, $4.75 million; and in 2014, $24 million.

Exports sent over in 2014 were almost entirely charitable food and medical provisions. Same in 2015 –  $4.1 million in humanitarian aid products and a half million in broth preparation products were sent from the U.S.

In 2016, things were a bit more festive, with nearly $45,000 worth of rum sent by way of Florida to North Korea. Additionally, about $71,000 of turkey meat was purchased, along with medical instruments, and periodicals out of New York.

In 2008 over $40 million of wheat and corn was sold into the country that year. But that was the last year for such non-charitable export numbers.

On Sunday, Forbes contributor Ken Roberts suggested rapidly increasing our trade with North Korea as a means of diplomacy and humanitarianism. He pointed out that we trade with other communist-inspired countries, including China, Vietnam and Cuba. North Korea could be a market for our soybeans, wheat and corn and give the impoverished population the nutrition they so desperately need.

Roberts suggested offering our exports in return for an enforced end to their nuclear program. With China acting as the banker in a cash for food exchange.

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