17 March 2021
A SUPPLY BEYOND SANCTIONS, ALL THE DIPLOMACY NECESSARY FOR AN EU CONTRACT IN NORTH KOREA
International cooperation has not stopped even in the face of political and diplomatic sanctions imposed by the United Nations. This has been demonstrated by the case of the supply contract for agricultural equipment funded by the European Union and executed by AGT International, in favour of North Korea. Ten years ago, AGT International then Agrotec, had developed a Project for food supplies in support of North Korea, funded by the Italian Cooperation. In recent years, in 2017 and in 2019, AGT International has been awarded two large supply contracts for agricultural machinery (and related spare parts) entirely financed by the EU, for a total value of almost 3 million euros. In both these cases, the strict rules related to the European origin of the goods have been set aside to allow the supply of low-complexity Asian products, more in line with the needs of the end users of the equipment and machinery.
The UN sanctions against the People's Republic of North Korea were an additional complication to conclude the operations. In order to overcome the embargo, it was necessary for AGT International to request and obtain specific exemptions from the United Nations Security Council Committee, pursuant to paragraph 25 of UN resolution No. 2397 (2017), and with the assistance of the Italian Government.
All international cooperation projects that were being implemented in DPRK in 2017 – in particular FAO that is very active in the country – have in fact suffered several months of delay due to the necessary authorization from the United Nations Security Council Committee. However, the Committee recognized the importance of these cooperation projects and in consideration of the need not to compromise the already difficult humanitarian situation with sanctions, authorized the implementation of the contracts after a few months.
The normalization of trade relations is one of the objectives of the EU, while respecting international sanctions. Among the necessary skills of those who work in the field of international cooperation, this well-developed diplomatic competence cannot go missing – it is part of the service offered and requested – in order to be able to fulfil contractual obligations even in the presence of obstacles and impediments unforeseen at the time of definition of the project.
To date, the last obstacle to complete the project seems to be the resolution of the pandemic and the resumption of trade between China and North Korea. For several months, the only port of entry of goods was closed and North Korea is even more isolated. The Dalian (China) – Nampo (DPRK) section was closed a few months ago due to a COVID-19 outbreak in China and is expected to reopen – pandemic variants permitting – around April-May 2021. AGT&39, latest delivery (18 plows manufactured by an Italian company) awaits the reopening of the border with the DRPK in a warehouse in Dalian.