February 26, 2010


US may list Vietnamese catfish in farm bill



According to reports, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will consider to list Vietnam's tra and basa fish as catfish under the 2008 farm bill.


However, the report has aroused concern amongst Vietnamese seafood exporters.


Vietnam Seafood Processors and Exporters (VASEP) general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said under the 2008 farm bill, Vietnamese tra and basa fish could be included in the US's catfish group. Also, the quality of tra and basa fish will be controlled by the USDA instead of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


The definition of Vietnamese tra and basa fish supposedly to be defined in July 2009, however, the timing was delayed due to the actions of certain senators and the media.


According to Truong, the US Office of Management and Budget's recent decision to extend its review of the rules on catfish food safety inspections proposed by the USDA showed that legislators are considering the application of these rules, and other related issues rather than food safety.


He noted that the change in the management of the imported fish (from the FDA to the USDA) creates a fairly complex control system that will eventually cause difficulties for the export of Vietnamese tra fish to the US, as well as efforts to increase bilateral trade.


Figures show that Vietnam last year exported 600,000 tonnes of tra fish, including 41,000 tonnes to the US, 7% of the total. Though it is a small figure, loss of these sales could have a big impact on the reputation of Vietnamese exports, he said.

Meanwhile, the government has set a target of raising 1.5 million tonnes of tra fish in the Mekong Delta region and earning US$1.5 billion from tra exports this year.

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