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Vietnamese Concerns Over a Redefinition of Catfish

VIET NAM - The head of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), an organisation of American companies engaged in international trade in seafood, believes it "would be a mistake for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand the definition of catfish to include Tra and Basa (or Vietnamese pangasius)".

USDA, at the request of American catfish farmers, is considering classifying tra and basa imports from Vietnam as ‘catfish.’ Importers fear that the result could be quota restrictions on Vietnam’s exports to the US.

The NFI President, John Connelly, told a VNA correspondent that such a move would harm the economy of both countries.

Connelly pointed out that if Vietnam’s pangasius production is limited, there would be a corresponding drop in American export of soybeans to Vietnam. Soybeans are an important component of catfish food. There would also be an adverse impact on fish processing plants in the states of Idaho, Massachusetts, and Florida. Finally, it would could reduce opportunities for US families to enjoy the Vietnamese products.

Connelly is sure, he said, that Tra and Basa of Vietnam are safe and healthy products. He pointed out that at a time when President Barack Obama is trying to reshape and reenergise the US economy and renew American leadership abroad, it is important to avoid steps that would damage the Amerian relationship with developing countries.

Connellyy pointed out that in 2002, the US Congress chose not to classify Vietnamese Tra and Basa as “catfish.” The new initiative, seven years later, is anti-trade; it aims to prevent the products coming in from Vietnam to compete against the domestic catfish.

the Fish Site Editor

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