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Vietnamese pangasius exports pass first US test

Released at: 14:21, 05/03/2018

Vietnamese pangasius exports pass first US test

Photo from Hung Vuong Corp

Vietnam satisfies US Department of Agriculture's first test for continuing to export pangasius to the country.

by Nghi Do

Vietnam has satisfied the US Department of Agriculture’s first test for continuing to export pangasius (catfish) to the US, according to an announcement from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on February 23.

There were previously concerns over the disruption of seafood exports to the US if Vietnam failed to satisfy USDA’s first test. Now the result is out, according to the FSIS’s Equivalence Status Chart, Vietnam is the only country to reach Step 3B in the equivalence process, which consists of six steps:

1. Country submits a formal written request to FSIS, identifying the species and products they intend to export.

2. Country submits a Self-Reporting Tool (SRT) and supporting documentation.

3A. FSIS sends a request to the country to provide additional information in order to consider the SRT complete.

3B. FSIS receives additional information, determines the SRT is complete, and conducts a technical review of provided information.

4. On-site verification audit.

5. Public notification in the Federal Register for commenting - Proposed Rule

6. Determination of Equivalence-Final Rule

The FSIS has completed the review of Vietnam’s SRTs and additional information supplied to FSIS and determined that the country’s documented inspection system of controls appears to provide an equivalent level of public health protection as that applied domestically in the US.

In the next step, the FSIS will propose dates for on-site audits to verify that Vietnam’s system of controls is implemented as described in the SRTs submission. The FSIS will work closely with Vietnam’s National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) in organizing the audits “within the next three months, and probably sooner than that,” Ms. Carmen Rottenberg, the USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety, told Undercurrent News.

It seems unlikely that Vietnam passing the first of USDA’s three tests will have any impact on the consultation request it recently filed with the WTO, claiming the US Government’s recent changes in its inspection regime from US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to USDA is an unfair trade practice.

The US has not replied to Vietnam in this matter, however in the fiscal year 2019 discretionary budget proposal, President Donald Trump proposed returning the siluriformes inspection program back to FDA in an attempt to trim the costs at USDA. Under WTO rules, Vietnam could ask for adjudication of the dispute if the US does not settle it within 60 days.

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