Singapore Customs warns against trade with North Korea

The latest sanction prohibits all commercial imports, exports, transshipment and transit of goods to or from North Korea through Singapore.
The latest sanction prohibits all commercial imports, exports, transshipment and transit of goods to or from North Korea through Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

SEOUL • Singapore has said it "will not hesitate" to investigate and take action against anyone found guilty of flouting recently imposed rules to suspend all trade with North Korea.

In an e-mail to The Straits Times, Singapore Customs said it adopted several new sanctions against North Korea "in rapid succession" this year in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) over the country's nuclear programme.

The latest, which took effect on Nov 8, prohibits all commercial imports, exports, transshipment and transit of goods to or from North Korea through Singapore.

Violators can be fined up to $100,000 or three times the value of goods traded, jailed for up to two years, or both.

"Individuals and entities in Singapore are not allowed to conduct activities that violate our laws which give effect to the UNSCRs on the DPRK," said the Customs spokes-man, using the acronym for North Korea's official name.

"We will investigate any wrong-doing by individuals or entities in Singapore, and will not hesitate to take action against those found guilty of wrongdoing."

Singapore Customs said it would issue circulars and organise seminars and industry outreach activities to keep businesses updated with changes in regulations.

Singapore, like most Asean countries, has diplomatic ties with both Koreas. The 10-member regional bloc ranks among North Korea's major trading partners. But, like Singapore, the Philippines has suspended trade with Pyongyang, and Thailand - Pyongyang's fourth-largest trading partner in 2015 - has seen its trade with the North plunge by 94 per cent in the past year.

Bilateral trade between North Korea and Singapore has been minuscule, reaching US$29 million (S$39.3 million) in 2015.

The trade suspension came more than two months after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised Singaporeans to avoid non-essential travel to North Korea following Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test on Sept 3.

Singapore has no mission in Pyongyang, though North Korea maintains an embassy in the city state.

North Koreans have been required to get a visa to enter Singapore since October last year.

Chang May Choon

•Additional reporting by Jose Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore Customs warns against trade with North Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe