Vietnam has satisfied the US Department of Agriculture’s first test for continuing to send pangasius to the US, according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) ‘s announcement on Feb 23, 2018.

Previously, there were concerns over the disruption of the fish exports to the US if Vietnam fails to satisfy USDA’s first test of equivalence. Now the result was out, according to FSIS’s announce Equivalence Status Chart, Vietnam is the only country reached step 3B of the equivalence process which consists of 6 steps:

  1. Country submits a formal written request to FSIS, identifying the species and products they intend to
  2. Country submits a Self-Reporting Tool (SRT) and supporting documentation.

3A. FSIS sends a request to the country to provide additional information in order to consider the SRT complete.

3B. FSIS receives additional information, determines the SRT is complete, and conducts a technical review of provided information.

  1. On-site verification audit.
  2. Public notification in the Federal Register for commenting – Proposed Rule
  3. Determination of Equivalence-Final Rule

FSIS has completed the review of Vietnam’s self-reporting tools (SRTs) and additional information supplied to FSIS and determined that the country’s documented inspection system of controls appears to provide an equivalent level of public health protection as that applied domestically in the US.

Next step, FSIS will propose audit dates for on-site audits to verify that Vietnam’s system of controls is implemented as described in the SRTs submission. FSIS will work closely with Vietnam’s National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD)  in organizing the audits “within the next three months, and probably sooner than that,” Carmen Rottenberg, the USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety, told Undercurrent News.

It seems unlikely that Vietnam passing the first of USDA’s three tests will have any impact on the consultation request it recently filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming the US government’s recent changes in its inspection regime from US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to USDA is an unfair trade practice.

The US has not replied to Vietnam in this matter, however in fiscal year 2019 discretionary budget proposal, Prez Donald J. Trump proposed to return the siluriformes inspection program back to FDA in an attempt to trim the costs at USDA. Under WTO rules, Viet Nam could ask for adjudication of the dispute if the US does not settle it within 60 days.

(Source: Undercurrent News)