The US Senate’s approval of a resolution that will scrap the US Department of Agriculture’s new catfish inspection program is a “right step,” Vietnam’s foreign ministry has said.
Le Hai Binh, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told local media Tuesday that Vietnam repeatedly expressed its concern over the program, which is “costly and unnecessary.”
“We highly appreciate the US Senate’s vote,” Binh said, adding that this move is line with new developments of the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership.
Vietnam calls for the House of Representatives and the US government to approve the inspection program removal, the spokesperson said.
“We always endeavor to cooperate with other countries, including the US, to ensure safety and quality of Vietnamese catfish, which has already met international quality and safety standards,” said Binh.
The US Senate voted to scrap the catfish inspection program on May 25.
The program, created by the US Congress in 2008, started in March this year and is scheduled to be phased in over 18 months.
Republican Senator John McCain and other critics have said the program is wasteful and duplicative. They believe inspection by the Food Safety and Inspection Service is not necessary and the task should be handled by the Food and Drug Administration as in previous years.
Catfish is among the most popular seafood in the US, with the market long dominated by local producers in Mississippi and Alabama. In recent years, they have been rivaled by fast-growing and cheaper imports from Vietnam and other Asian nations.
Vietnam shipped US$151 million worth of catfish to the US in the first four months of this year, up 7 percent year-on-year, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).