Processing catfish for exports in Vietnam. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) under the US Department of Agriculture recently proposed that Vietnam would be eligible to export catfish and other fish products to the US market, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

This week, the FSIS will publish in the Federal Register proposed rules to list Vietnam, China, and Thailand as three foreigners qualified to ship catfish to the American country.

Once these documents go on public display at the Office of the Federal Register, their scheduled publication dates will be posted on https://www/federalregister.gov.public-inspection/current.

The proposed rules announce FSIS’ determination that catfish (or siluriformes) inspection systems in the three countries be equivalent to those in the US. The proposals will be open for comment for 30 days.

Vietnam, China, and Thailand had submitted documentations to the FSIS to establish the level of their catfish inspection systems and eligibility to export this kind of fish to the US.

Under the Farm Bill which was passed in 2014, the catfish inspection programme took effect on March 1, 2016 with transition period of 18 months. Accordingly, from September 1, 2017, any country that does not submit the equivalent documents to the FSIS is not allowed to export the product to the US market.

Right after the inspection programme was issued, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development ordered relevant agencies to implement technical cooperation with the FSIS. At the same time, the ministry worked closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to maintain catfish exports to the American country.

The National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) submitted the necessary documents to the FSIS on August 23, 2017.

From May 14-25, 2018, the FSIS conducted inspections on catfish production in Vietnam and determined that the country’s controlled inspection system appears to provide an equivalent level of public health protection applied domestically in the US.

Despite formidable challenges posed by high anti-dumping duties and the catfish inspection programme, catfish exports to the US enjoyed strong growth thanks to the high selling price. In the first six months of the year, Vietnam earned 196.8 million USD from tra fish export to this market, accounting for 19.6 percent of total tra fish export revenue, and increasing by 11.6 percent from the same time last year. –VNA