Vietnam has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), calling US pangasius inspections unfair.
“Shipments of Pangasius from Viet Nam to the United States have long been unfairly targeted for trade restrictions by United States producers of like products,” the filing, dated Feb. 22, stated. “These exports by Vietnamese producers are now subject to laws, rules, administrative practices, and related actions of the United States that, without a sufficient scientific basis, are restricting the trade in this product, which is of substantial significance to the Vietnamese economy, and which also provides a substantial benefit to United States consumers as a healthy and affordable source of food and of protein.”
The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) said Tuesday the outcome of this eventual WTO case will have a negative and quantifiable impact on a wide variety of US agriculture exports to an important and growing market.
“The non-tariff barrier that is the USDA catfish program is designed solely to illegally benefit the catfish lobby while dragging down safe, legal, growing agriculture trade with Vietnam,” the NFI stated. “That trade is part of a booming agricultural export market increasingly relied on by America’s farmers and ranchers.”
Earlier this summer, Vietnam threatened to sue the United States over new US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requirements that included reinspecting all imports of catfish, including pangasius. “News that Vietnam has sought World Trade Organization (WTO) consultation with the United States over the United States Department of Agriculture’s catfish program should come as little surprise to those familiar with the decade-old history of this duplicative and wasteful program.” John Connelly, NFI’s president, said Tuesday.
President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposes returning the siluriformes (catfish) inspection program to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Food Safety News reports. FSIS currently inspects catfish under an agreement with the FDA.