Congressional Letter Urges U.S. Trade Representative to Address Seafood Safety Issues in Trade Negotiations
Today, Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Senator Mary Landrieu sent a joint bipartisan letter to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Ronald Kirk, urging his office to tackle seafood safety problems in ongoing negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement. The Congressional letter emphasized the poor track record of Vietnam’s seafood exports to the U.S. market and the decision of the Vietnamese government to no longer test seafood shipments prior to export to this market. Further, the Congressional letter noted that Malaysia has been determined to be a conduit for transshipped Chinese shrimp to the U.S. market and that the Malaysian government has refused to allow U.S. officials to inspect Malaysian facilities suspected of transshipment.
The Congressional letter specifically called upon the USTR to address these concerns in the ongoing TPP negotiations. In the context of those negotiations, the USTR should obtain a bilateral agreement with the Vietnamese government safeguarding American consumers from contaminated imports, similar to those that Vietnam currently maintains with other countries, including Canada. The USTR should also seek to obtain a cooperative agreement with Malaysia that allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to access facilities in Malaysia that are transshipping Chinese shrimp in order to circumvent U.S. law.
“We are grateful for the unwavering commitment of Representatives DeLauro, Jones, and Senator Landrieu to ensure that consumers have access to safe and wholesome seafood,” said John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “The seafood safety problems posed by Vietnamese and Malaysian exports should be easy to address and remedy. However, expanding trade with these countries without addressing these serious problems sends a clear message that we do not care about the health of U.S. consumers.”
Vietnam exports nearly half a billion dollars worth of shrimp to the United States each year, while Malaysia exported shrimp valued at over $200 million dollars in 2011. Vietnam is currently the fifth largest source of U.S. shrimp imports. Malaysia is the seventh largest source. The substantial growth in exports of Malaysian shrimp to the United States has corresponded with the substantial growth of exports of Chinese shrimp to Malaysia.
Read the November 29, 2012 Letter from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to the U.S. Trade Representative here: http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/TPPShrimpLetter11-29-12.pdf
Read Press Release “Bipartisan Group Presses for Consumer Protections in Trade Negotiations” from the Office of Rep. Rosa DeLauro here: