VIET NAM - Vietnamese catfish (tra) exporters will face great difficulties, possibly from next year, due to America's new 2014 farm bill.
Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep), said the law would not immediately affect Viet Nam’s tra shipments, according to the SaigonTimes.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) would need 60 days from the date of the bill signed into law on February 7 to issue regulations on functions and duties of agencies mentioned in the law, Mr Hoe said.
The law tasks USDA, instead of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with supervising catfish, including tra and basa fish from Viet Nam. The FDA has long been responsible for this job but it focuses on food safety and hygiene issues only.
Meanwhile, USDA will monitor fish farms to see whether they meet its standards before it allows the fish from those farms to enter the American market.
The law also puts Vietnamese tra and basa fish into a catfish inspection programme.
The programme could only start after all guidance documents are made available, which means Viet Nam’s fish exports to America would not take an immediate hit from the law, Mr Hoe noted, adding the impact might be felt next year.
The term which is considered directly affecting Viet Nam’s tra fish exports requires meat, fish and egg products imported into the US to have the labels of farming and slaughtering origins as well as slaughtering methods.
At the commercial counselor conference held in HCMC two months ago, Vietnamese commercial counselor in the US Dao Tran Nhan said that it would take Viet Nam five to seven years to upgrade the production and processing process to have its quality equivalent to that of US farming, production and processing facilities in compliance with the new farm bill.
In a statement on its website, the Vietnamese Embassy in the US voices objections, saying that the US Congress has ignored free and equal trade with developing countries in Asia.
According to the embassy, the catfish inspection program is irrational as it is intended to prevent Vietnamese fish from entering the US market.
Agricultural products are among the important products of two-way trade between Viet Nam and the US.
Go to our previous news item on the US Farm Bill by clicking here.
TheFishSite News Desk