Archive for the ‘catfish’ Category

Vietnam Boosts Seafood Exports To EU Through Italy

March 18, 2008

HANOI, March 18 Asia Pulse Vietnam and Italy will cooperate to boost the export of seafood and agricultural products to the European Union (EU).

To this effect, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on food quality control has been signed by Nguyen Tu Cuong, Head of the National Fisheries Quality Assurance and Veterinary Directorate (Nafiqaved), and Romano Marabelli, General Director of the Italian Ministry of Health’s Department of Food, Nutrition and Public Health.

Marabelli said Vietnam should increase food exports to Italy, especially seafood such as shrimp, tra and basa catfish.

He also warned that Vietnam’s food exports must meet hygiene safety standards in order to protect consumers health.

To do this, the Vietnamese representative emphasised the need to raise producers awareness of food safety and increase the control of functional agencies.

To date, 269 Vietnamese enterprises have been permitted to export their products to the EU and Italy.



Vietnam’s Catfish Farmers: Off The Hook

December 27, 2007
Thursday December 27, 2007

HANOI, Dec 27 Asia Pulse – The Association of Catfish Farmers of America (CFA) and US catfish processors have removed the names of 27 Vietnamese tra and basa exporters from the list of companies subject to the fourth administrative review, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

On August 31, 2007, the plaintiff in the catfish dumping lawsuit informed the US Department of Commerce (DOC) of the names of Vietnamese companies subject to the fourth annual administrative review.

However, the law firm Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld LLp, representing the plaintiff, sent a letter on December 20 to the DOC Secretary, announcing that the plaintiff has agreed to remove the names of 27 Vietnamese companies from the list. The DOC will conduct an administrative review of tra and basa exports to the US by Vietnamese companies between August 1, 2006 and July 31, 2007.

The 27 Vietnamese companies which have been removed from the list of those subject to review are: Afiex An Giang; Agifish; Anvifish Co., Ltd; Basa Co., Ltd; Cataco; Caseamex; Cafatex; Caseafood; CL-Fish Co., Ltd; Seaprodex Da Nang; Coseafex; East Sea Seafoods Joint Venture Co., Ltd; Gepimex 404; limited companies: Hai Nam, Hai Vuong, Hoan An, Hung Vuong, Kim Anh; Mekongfish; Nam Viet (NAVICO); Ngoc Thai; South Vina; Vietnam Fish-One Co., Ltd; Vinh Hoan (ong Thap); Vinh Hoan Corporation; Imex Cuu Long and Vinh Quang Fisheries Corporation.

All other companies named on the August 31, 2007 list will be subject to the fourth review.

The US catfish farmers brought suit against Vietnamese filet tra and basa producers five years ago, the result of which was the DOC’s decision to impose anti-dumping tax rates on Vietnamese companies’ exports. Every year, the DOC conducts an administrative review of named exporters, which decides appropriate tax rates for the companies.

Despite the anti-dumping tax rates imposed on exports to the US, Vietnam is still able to export a large volume of catfish globally, with turnover nearly reaching the US$1 billion level.

The demand for catfish keeps increasing on the world market. Exports to Russia, the second biggest market for Vietnam’s tra and basa fish, resumed after food hygiene problems were settled. Vietnam’s export products now meet the strict requirements set by major importers (the EU, US, Russia and Australia).

In the first three quarters of 2007, the EU remained the biggest importer of tra and basa from Vietnam, consuming 46.2 per cent in terms of quantity and 49 per cent in terms of export turnover. Russia is the second biggest export market for Vietnam’s catfish, followed by ASEAN countries, the US, Ukraine and Mexico.


Vietnam: China’a Seafood Exports Slide as Vietnam’s Boom

Tricky Vietnamese Truth About Catfish

China: So Big, So Powerful, So Disorganized, So Corrupt

August 6, 2007

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues a warning to farmers, most of them get it the same day or a day later.

In China, the same piece of information vital to food safety may take months or years to reach farmers in the countryside – if it ever does make it.

The problem for China is mainly two fold: first, China has 200 million farming households and 500,000 food-producing companies. So the problems in policing such a “system” are immense by western standards.

The second reason clearly points to a failure of the communist party system inside China.

Local party functionaries are largely ineffective in managing the simplest new piece of information from Beijing.

When Beijing senses that things are not all well in the countryside; a threat to local bureaucrats is likely just around the corner.

Earlier this year, China ordered local authorities to address the root causes of rising public discontent, state media reported, in an apparent sign of growing concern over social stability.

Local officials were told they will be denied promotions unless they minimize social unrest in their areas, Xinhua news agency quoted a top Community Party official as saying.

“Officials who perform poorly in maintaining social stability in rural areas will not be qualified for promotion,” it quoted Ouyang Song, a senior party official in charge of personnel matters, as saying.

Beijing blamed inept local communist party officials for illicit CD factories, air and water pollution, and rioting over the “one child” policy near Hong Kong.

One local party official told me, “We are the whipping boys” for Beijing.  “Beijing will not take responsibility in front of the west, but they will shift the blame on to us, poor education and other policy problems.”

But many westerners say the number and quality of local officials is just not adequate. And local officials are expected to monitor a vast panoply of companies and activities.

Consider the pharmaceutical industry in China.

“There’s no quick fix,” says Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization’s top representative in China. “China has perhaps been cutting some corners because the focus has been on growth. But they have 5,000 companies that produce medicine.   That’s far too many.”

Some experts inside China say that due to illegal drug production the actual number of companies involved in the  pharmaceutical “industry” may be  as many as 6,700.

“The government has a limited ability to enforce things,” said Bekedam. “They need to start with simple things: reduce the number of people you monitor.”

China’s new Food and Drug Administration director said local businessmen and officials did not understand what Beijing expects – or are worn out by their requirements.”We must face the fact that there are still some problems which cannot be ignored,” Shao Mingli was quoted as saying at a seminar in a transcript posted on the agency’s Web site.

“Some areas are not fully aware of the importance, hardship and complexity of this work. They fear the difficulties and suffer battle fatigue.”And many believe, despite pressure from Beijing, there is little incentive for local bureaucrats to follow Beijing’s orders or lead.

The difficulty is compounded by what some academics have termed “local protectionism,” the close relationship between government and business in many cities. Xue Lan, associate director of the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, said local officials do not always think it is in their best interests to recognize corruption.

“Sometimes local regulatory agencies do not necessarily make the best effort to control issues because it may harm the local economy. So they let it go,” Xue said.

China experts also point out that for decades, the Communist Party has held primacy over the rule of law in China. It is almost impossible to bring legal action against party leaders and other high-ranking individuals. In addition, the country’s legal system is based on socialist principles that value the needs of the society more than those of the individual.

A China expert told us: “If it is good for the economy and people are making money, nobody will really police how we get there.”
Postscript: Because China’s drug, food and product safety woes are linked to the communist party, we believe there are many similar concers for Vietnam.

Tricky Vietnamese Truth About Catfish

What Does Beijing’s Central Government Consider a “Threat”?

People Living Under Communism: Very Limited Rights (If Any)

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

In this run up to the Beijing Summer Olympics, which begin a year from now, you see many “happy face” “news” reports from westerners in China.  As I am writing this, Meredith Viera of the NBC TODAY show is sampling food in China during a report from China. Of course, NBC has a huge contract to televise the 2008 Summer games and is in no position to offer any criticism of China.
So there is a different view of China, an alternative to NBCs, that needs to be known and understood.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Updated August 8, 2007

Vietnam: China’a Seafood Exports Slide as Vietnam’s Boom

July 23, 2007

HANOI, July 23  – Despite years of disagreement with the United States about the health and cleanliness of Vietnam’s exported catfish, Vietnam’s catfish exporter Agifish said on Monday its net profit in the first half jumped 67 percent from a year earlier to nearly 30 billion dong ($1.9 million) on robust export demand.

Even as China’s exports of seafood to the U.S. have declined this year as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said China’s exported seafood is largely tainted, Vietnam seems to have recovered from previous FDA criticism.

Based in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang, Agifish said in a statement that its first-half revenues rose 6 percent compared with the same period last year to 565.2 billion dong ($35 million).

Agifish said it planned to list 4.9 million additional shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Agifish has projected its net profit for the whole of this year to rise 54 percent from 2006 to 70 billion dong. It expects annual export revenue of $67 million.The company exports fish, shrimp and also supplies material for agricultural production. ($1=16,138 dong)
–Dhan Dan (Official News of the Vietnamese Community Party)

Imported Seafood, Chinese Products and the Twilight Zone

July 22, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 23, 2007

Imported Seafood

After hearing all the stories of tainted seafood from China, much of which has now been banned from U.S. import by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, my mother-in-law heard from her daughter (my wife) that I had done extensive research into catfish imported into the U.S. from Vietnam.

We found that the Vietnamese farm (pond) grown catfish were fed human feces most of their lives. The “bottom feeders” seemed to love the stuff and thrive on it.

Just a few months before “harvesting,” the Vietnamese catfish get treated to the cleanest water Vietnam can provide and a high protein diet that would make a professional boxer smile. This “washes” the Viet catfish just before they are sold for export.

Everybody seemed happy until the FDA (and some in the American public) decided the practice of feeding human feces to catfish was disgusting. Maybe even dangerous.

Vietnam says the problem has now been corrected and that catfish sales are, well, off the bottom.

Yet my mother-in-law decided she would no longer buy any frozen imported seafood from “Communist Asian nations” (China and Vietnam). Then she decided unilaterally to include Thai seafood in the deal. Why?  Every Vietnamese seems to know that when an export product is questionable, Thailand will be more than happy to label the product as Thai for a small cut in the action.  Plus Thailand had a coup last year and they are no longer a democratically governed nation. So Mom figures they are one step closer to communism.

We’ve moved from chemistry to politics in one giant leap of the, well, catfish.

So, mother-in-law now only eats fresh seafood from the U.S.A.

There are two twists to this. My wife’s mother is Vietnamese herself. And guess who gets to drive mother to the Washington D.C. waterfront for U.S.A. seafood? Me.

Fortunately, we found some wonderful Vietnamese-American seamen to assist us with American crab, flounder and other goodies!

Mother is on the All American Seafood Diet from now on: for chemical and political reasons, apparently!

Chinese Products

For several years we’ve watched the rising tide of imported Chinese consumer products into the United States. One of the real bell ringers for me has been a friend who says, every time we meet: “Why don’t we just all buy American.”

If you’ve been to any Sears, WalMart or Target lately you already know the answer: everything is made cheaper in China so U.S. businesses, to a great extent, no longer make toasters and the other things you need at home.

This morning, at church, we found offered for sale, some small holy statues meant for car dashboard mounting. Some think this kind of thing can protect you in case of an accident. Every dashboard mounted holy statue I have ever seen is looking INTO the car. I decided, for the first time in my life, to give this car holy statue magic a try. But because Washington D.C. traffic is getting more and more dangerous, I decided I’d mount my holy person looking OUT though the windshield. I figure she’ll scream or something if any real danger is about to surprise me.

In determining how to mount my holy person on the dashboard, I turned the tiny statue upside down seeking instructions. A small label on the bottom reads, “Made in China.”

Unexplained Apparition

There was a TV program named “The Twilight Zone” when I was a kid. In it, Rod Serling explored the unexplainable week after week.

Last week, when I got to the bottom of three or four deck underground garage, I had to stop for a blind lady with a white cane smack in the driving lane, walking somewhere. I could see no other cars anywhere and have no idea what a blind lady was doing at the bottom of the underground garage.

My wife said: “She has a holy statue WAY better than yours.”

Tricky Vietnamese Truth About Catfish

Despite outcry, many Americans can’t live without China goods

China not sole food-safety offender

July 21, 2007

July 21, 2007

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican cantaloupe irrigated with water from sewage-tainted rivers. Candy laced with lead. Chinese toothpaste is not the only concern for U.S. consumers wary of the health risks posed by imported goods.

Producers in other developing nations are notorious violators of basic food-safety standards, even as they woo consumers with a growing appetite for foods such as pickled mangoes from India and fruits and vegetables during winter from Mexico.

Read the rest:

Tricky Vietnamese Truth About Catfish

Tricky Vietnamese Truth About Catfish

July 9, 2007

In light of all the discussion on tainted seafood from China, we thought we might republish this saga on the “Catfish War” between the U.S. and Vietnam.  The Chinese are just as clever as the Vietnamese, of course.   Like Vietnam, China feeds its pond raised seafood some interesting subtances like feces.  And we wonder why the fish has bacteria in it….. But there is more to this story.  Sometimes we Americans knowingly or unwittingly move our suppliers in a dangerous direction….

By John E. Carey
First Published: March 2, 2007

After normalization of bilateral relations between Vietnam and the United States in 1995, an American technical mission visited Vietnam to look for opportunities to promote trade and investment.

The delegation identified catfish as an ideal commodity to harvest from the Mekong delta, saying that strong fresh water flows would improve the quality of the catch over fish raised in stagnant ponds.

Once Vietnam got good at catfish farming and exports to the United States soared, the United States argued that catfish raised in flowing waters posed hygiene problems and Congress even passed a law declaring that there is no catfish in Vietnam.

Even so, the Commerce Department slapped an import duty onto the non-existing catfish from Vietnam.By 2003, the situation was widely being called the  “Catfish War.”

And Vietnam was losing.

The U.S. worked to stop imported catfish from Vietnam from reaching the American dinner table.

Many southern U.S. states like Louisiana make a lot of money raising catfish.

“It’s totally unfair and does not reflect the objective fact,” said Phan Thuy Thanh, spokeswoman for Vietnam’s foreign minister. “The application of unfair protective barriers to Vietnam’s tra and basa catfish exports to the US over the protest of public opinion – including American opinion – shows the increasing tendency to protect domestic production in the United States.”

By May 2006, the Department of Commerce ruled that the penal tax on giant tra and basa catfish exporter, Vinh Hoan Company, would be cut sharply to 6.81 percent from an earlier 36.84 percent.

But for another company, Cataco, it had increased the tax to a whopping 80.88 percent from 45.81 percent but had offered no explanations.

Ngo Phuoc Hau, chairman of the Mekong Fresh Fish Committee, said local exporters ignored the DOC’s actions since their products were in demand in the EU, Middles East, Russia, and Asia.

Admittedly, it was the US anti-dumping action which forced the Vietnamese businesses to explore other markets and diversify into exporting fresh fillet products and value-added products which fetch higher profits.

Catfish orders worth more than US$100 million poured in from the EU and other markets at the end of last year, a rise of 75 percent year-on-year. But here is the tricky and funny part. Some genius thought it would be a good idea to have a taste competition and let catfish eaters tell us who has the best catfish: America or Vietnam.

The Vietnamese won!

Later a Vietnamese told me: “We cheat on that a little.”

The pond catfish in Vietnam have a very poor diet, feeding on the bottom where there is lots of, lets say, filth. The Vietnamese raised the fish in this system until two months from harvest. This saved a lot of money.

So every pond farmer was allowed to submit ideas on how to improve the taste of the catfish and dozens of ideas were tried.

Here’s the winner: with two months to go before harvesting, they scooped the fish out of a smelly pond and put them in the cleanest water they had with the most nutritious diet. This “washed” the catfish, my friend said. Only two months of the process was expensive and after that last two months the fish tasted great!

My friend said, “Big cultural difference in how two countries appoached the problem.  Americans get too scientific and too honest.  We try things until we make the fish the best! Everyone participate.”

I call this the “The Asian Group Dynamic.”

John E. Carey is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times.

This essay was also posted on “Media for Freedom” by our dear freind Kamala.

“Media for Freedom” main:

China not sole food-safety offender

After we first published the Vietnam Catfish story, we heard from several former prisoners of the Communist regime.  They told us they were marched twice each day (once in the morning and once in the evening) do “do their business” above a river or pond.  When the daily routine started the catfish would be teeming in the river to get “food.”