This was one of the main issues that PM Nguyen Tan Dung mentioned during his meeting with U.S President on the sidelines of the ASEAN-US Summit at Sunnylands in California on February 16.
The Catfish Inspection Program, released on November 25 2015 by USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), is going to take effect on March 2016, in order to implement provisions required by the Farm Bill 2014. Starting March 2016, all Siluriformes fish, including Vietnam catfish, will be under the regulatory jurisdiction of FSIS, in lieu of FDA. FSIS allows a transitional period of 18 months, during this period, FSIS will conduct inspection at domestic establishments that slaughter and process Siluriformes as long as provide guidance to ensure understanding of FSIS’s requirements. By the end of 18-month period deadline, Vietnam must complete application for an equivalence determination. The Inspection Program has caused high pressures on the pangasius exporters in Vietnam.
On discussion with President Obama, PM Nguyen Tan Dung proposed extension of transitional period from 18 months to three to four years, so that Vietnam can revamp its management measures to meet relevant rules stipulated in the US’s Farm Bill 2014. PM also called for the US’s technical support in managing food safety and hygiene of Vietnamese pangasius and basa fish exported to the US.
He explained that Vietnam’s pangasius and basa fish exports to the US will encounter huge difficulties if there are no suitable solutions put in place, resulting in strongly reduced export revenues which will affect the daily life and employment of tens of millions of impoverished labors.
President Obama agreed with PM Nguyen Tan Dung’s proposals and affirmed that he will instruct relevant US agencies to coordinate with Vietnam to seek solutions to the above-mentioned issues, in order to consolidate mutual trust and understanding while deepening the two countries’ comprehensive cooperative partnership.