Press Release: Failure to repeal clear trade barriers calls U.S. commitments into question

In failing to repeal the United States Agriculture Department's Catfish Inspection Program as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the United States Congress has ignored its commitments to free and fair trade and its developing partners in Asia.

This program is an unjustified regulatory measure designed not to improve food safety but to deny access to the U.S. market for Vietnamese fish. As a WTO members, the United States agrees to certain responsibilities and Vietnam has certain rights that it can exercise in the wake of this regrettable Congressional inaction.

"The bilateral trade relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam is built, to a great extent, on agricultural exchange," said Vietnam's Ambassador to the U.S. Nguyen Quoc Cuong. "American farmers and ranchers exported $1.6 billion in goods to Vietnam in 2012, a number that is expected to increase. In return, the United States Congress is adopting a protectionist measure against Vietnamese fish, and that’s totally unfair”.

Both the United States and Vietnam are in important Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.  “We urge the U.S. to be consistent in both its requests of others and its own actions," added Ambassador Cuong.

An overwhelming number of Members of the U.S. Congress have publicly acknowledged the unjustified trade barriers found in the USDA catfish program. To allow them to remain in place, while the United States and its Agriculture Department actively campaigns against contrived and non-scientific impediments to commerce, is unacceptable.