November 3, 2008
The US Farm Bill, which includes provisions designed to restrict imports of Vietnamese tra catfish fillets, may hurt shipments of the product should the farm bill be adopted.
If the farm bill is adopted, there will be stringent control of Vietnamese tra fillet imports as with meat imports into the US, according to Nguyen Huu Dung, vice chairman of the Vietnamese Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
The bill is "dangerous" for Vietnam's tra and basa catfish processing and exports, therefore VASEP has urged the government to open talks with the US to remove trade barriers directed at Vietnamese tra fillet shipments.
Tra and basa catfish are Vietnam's key export items, with export turnover exceeding US$1 billion during the Jan-Sep 2008 period. Export turnover for the whole of 2008 is also expected to reach a total of US$1.5 billion.
To protect the domestic catfish industry, the US Congress has previously passed a bill regarding catfish labelling, under which Vietnamese tra are not considered as catfish therefore the product is not allowed to be labelled as "catfish" when exported to the US, said VASEP.
As a result, Vietnamese tra products are sold separately to US catfish, and the move has helped to boost the US catfish industry.