A delegation from the United States will visit Vietnam from 14 to 25 May to investigate the production process of pangasius in the Southeast Asian nation, VnEconomy reported this week.
The field inspection is part of the activities under the U.S. catfish control program for Vietnam, which is conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the daily said, quoting Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Vietnamese ministry has directed its relevant agencies, producers, and exporters of pangasius to set up working plans to receive the auditors.
“As part of full implementation of Siluriformes fish inspection activities, FSIS has worked extensively with foreign countries that wish to continue to export Siluriformes to the United States, including Vietnam,” FSIS Public Affairs Specialist Veronika Pfaeffle said in an email to SeafoodSource. She declined to confirm the visit or any dates, saying it is for the safety of the FSIS’s auditors.
U.S. imports of pangasius – which is in the Siluriformes order and is sold as catfish in the United States – have been strictly controlled at every stage, from breeding, harvesting, and transport to processing plants to processing and exporting. The products must meet 85 requirements on veterinary drugs, 106 requirements on pesticides, four requirements on dyestuffs, 17 requirements on metals and eight requirements on micro-organisms and chemicals based on parameters set by the U.S., the Vietnamese daily said.
The U.S. has also imposed high anti-dumping duty on pangasius products from Vietnam in recent years, which often has met with strong opposition from Vietnam.
In February, Vietnam filed an official complaint with the World Trade Organization against the U.S., claiming the U.S. Department of Agriculture program targeting catfish inspections imposes illegal barriers to trade. The Southeast Asian nation is also seeking bilateral talks to resolve the issue.
The U.S. remained the second-biggest buyer of Vietnamese pangasius in the first three months of this year, with export value touching USD 75 million (EUR 62.7 million), up 22.7 percent from the same period last year. But the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is likely to replace the U.S. as the second-most popular destination for Vietnamese pangasius in the near future if the U.S. imposes more barriers to prevent the fish from entering their market, Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has said.