All batches of products made from Siluriformers fish that are to be shipped to the US will have to undergo food safety tests from August 2, 2017, instead of September 1 (Source: VNA)


Hanoi (VNA) –
Vietnamese tra fish processors and exporters are worried that it will cost more
time and money to put their fish on plates in the US after the country
announced ahead-of-schedule food safety tests on imported Siluriformers fish
and fish products. 

All batches of products made from Siluriformers
fish, including tra, basa, tre and lang fish, that are to be shipped to the US
will have to undergo food safety tests from August 2, 2017, instead of
September 1.

The National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality
Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural
Development (MARD) on July 10 sent this announcement to processors and
exporters of Siluriformers fish after the department received a letter from the
US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) under the US Department of
Agriculture (USDA) through the US Embassy in Vietnam. 

FSIS announced that all shipments of imported
Siluriformers fish and fish products must be presented at an Official Import
Inspection Establishment for re-inspection by FSIS personnel, according to the
US Federal Register issued on July 3. 

To apply for import re-inspection, applicants
must submit a paper or electronic inspection application form to FSIS ahead of
the shipment’s arrival and no later than when the entry is filed with the US
Customs and Border Protection. The applicant must identify the official import
inspection establishment where re-inspection will occur.

FSIS encouraged importers and brokers to
communicate and coordinate with their respective FSIS District Office to
facilitate compliance.

Truong Thi Le Khanh, Chairwoman and General
Director of Vinh Hoan JSC, one of Vietnam’s leading tra fish exporters to the
US, said Siluriformers fish and fish products are likely stuck in the US as
construction of several official import inspection facilities in the US is
still underway.  

Sharing Khanh’s views, Truong Dinh Hoe, General
Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers
(VASEP), said there are only 40 official inspection facilities authorised by
the USDA scattered across the US. Few of them offer complete services while
others specialise in only meat or frozen products. 

He also expressed his concern over these
facilities’ inability to perform food safety tests for Siluriformers fish and
fish products, which, he said, may lengthen the duration of storage and FSIS

As a result, exporters will have to pay more
storage fees and struggle to deliver their shipments on time, Hoa added. 

Given this, he suggested the MARD work with the
USDA to remove these bottlenecks. 

Nguyen Nhu Tiep, head of NAFIQAD, told the
Vietnam News Agency that in a diplomatic note sent to NAFIQAD, FSIS explained
that the adjustment of the test schedule is in response to the US Congress’s
Budget Control Act.

NAFIQAD then sent a diplomat note to FSIS
expressing its concern over the change and suggesting the US create the best
possible conditions for Vietnamese exporters to ensure the smooth delivery of
Siluriformers fish to the market. 

He further explained that businesses were not
informed prior to the test schedule adjustment. Therefore, those who planned to
ship Siluriformers fish to the US after August 2, 2017 will incur extra costs
at official import inspection facilities. 

NAFIQAD also urges local tra fish processors and
exporters to contact US importers to learn more about new food safety
regulations, he added. 

At a recent conference on the tra fish sector in
the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and
Rural Development Vu Van Tam stressed that Vietnam will cooperate and negotiate
simultaneously when penetrating the US market. 

According to the VASEP, the US  market
has potential for pangasius fish products, however, the market has anti-dumping
duties and technical standards that are too defensive and too strict, exceeding
requirements for food safety. 

Therefore, Vietnamese pangasius fish processors
and exporters face many obstacles in exporting to
the American market. In fact, only a few enterprises have been able
to export to this market.

The US is currently thesecond largest importer of Vietnamese tra fish,
behind China.

In the first four months of this year, Vietnam’s
total export value of tra fish to the US stood at 90.2 million USD, a
year-on-year drop of 21.7 percent.-VNA