Human Rights Watch generally takes no position on free trade per se, and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is no exception. Instead, we believe that trade agreements can provide important leverage and opportunities to promote workers’ rights, and we advocate for meaningful, enforceable labor rights protections in the fabric of accords. Therefore, we are especially concerned that an important annex to the US-Korea FTA creates the possibility that North Korean goods from specially designated outward processing zones,3 produced by workers whose rights are not protected in law or practice, could enter the United States duty free under the agreement.


Was there an effort to modify the US-Korea FTA to prevent North Korean goods from entering America duty-free? The report says that currently as it was agreed upon by both parties, the free trade agreement between South Korea and U.S. would allow certain North Korean goods from being sold in America duty-free, was there any effort to get rid of this "flaw" or "omission"?

  • 2
    To be clear, is this human rights statement a reaction to a July 1, 2007 trade deal? And, was there ever any allegation that North Korean goods ever reached the U.S. duty-free via South Korea by virtue of this, or was it merely hypothetical?
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 4, 2023 at 18:50
  • An effort by whom? Specifically by the US government, or other organisations making an effort to lobby for changes? And what constitutes an effort? It might be more practical to ask e.g. if US government negotiators or politicians have commented on the topic, or if it was raised during negotiation.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 5, 2023 at 12:06


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .