Vietnam petitions US to re-evaluate catfish import restrictions

By Dat Nguyen   March 20, 2018 | 10:47 pm PT
Vietnam petitions US to re-evaluate catfish import restrictions
Workers make fillets of catfish at a factory in the southern city of Can Tho, Vietnam, July 7, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Record anti-dumping duties pose a threat to local pangasius exporters.

Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked the U.S. to reconsider recently proposed tariffs on shipments of Vietnamese pangasius that would require exporters to pay up to $7.74 per kilogram of the fish.

This new tariff was announced on March 15 by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) following its 13th review of anti-dumping duties on Vietnamese pangasius exporters.

During the review process, Vietnamese companies cooperated with the DOC and provided all the necessary information within the time available, said the ministry. However, the DOC decided to use existing data to determine the record-high dumping margin.

At the same time, the DOC also changed its investigation practices for many Vietnamese exporters, the ministry added.

This level of restriction is "highly unfair and protective," and will have a negative impact on Vietnam's pangasius exports, of which the U.S. is its biggest buyer, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry is working closely with the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and exporters to tackle the issue in a way that will benefit Vietnamese exporters.

Vietnam has already filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning the restrictions. WTO rules allow Vietnam to request adjudication on the dispute if there is no settlement from the U.S. within 60 days.

The U.S. has been the biggest importer of Vietnamese pangasius in recent years, but strict regulations on quality and food safety, especially a catfish inspection program that was launched in August last year to check the fish from the farm through to processing and shipment, have repeatedly created a bumpy road to the U.S. for Vietnamese exporters.

Vietnam made $1.78 billion from exporting pangasius fish last year, up 4.3 percent against 2016, but its earning from exports of the fish to the U.S. dropped 11 percent to $387 million, said VASEP.

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