- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2002

HANOI (Agence France-Presse) Vietnam has proposed renaming catfish exported to the United States in a move aimed at escaping a ban on imports adopted recently, an official newspaper said yesterday.

Vietnam proposed to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that exports of Vietnamese catfish to the United States go under the new names of Hypo Basa, Sutchi Basa and Trasa, the daily Lao Dong said.

In November, Congress decided that only catfish belonging to a biological genus native to North America be allowed the "catfish" label, effectively shutting Vietnamese fish out of the U.S. market.

The rule was included in the 2002 appropriations legislation for agriculture programs, which President Bush signed. A provision in the law states that only creatures from the "Ictaluridae" family one native to the Mississippi Delta can be marketed as catfish.

The new rule clearly is aimed at Vietnamese producers, who have claimed about 20 percent of the $4 billion U.S. market for what is often labeled "Delta Fresh" catfish.

The Vietnam National Assembly said in December that the adoption of the law was a trade barrier and contrary to the spirit of the nations' first trade agreement.

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