Key Topic – Vietnam Proposes Changes to Import MRLs

Vietnam recently issued a WTO notice proposing changes to its veterinary drug import maximum residue limits (MRLs) which would establish a zero tolerance for 40 different substances. The proposed changes included zero tolerance for ractopamine in beef and pork, and for trenbolone and zeranol in beef. Vietnam had previously adopted Codex standards for these three compounds. Vietnam also proposed to regulate other veterinary drugs commonly used in the livestock industry at zero tolerance.

USMEF worked with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute to develop comments on these proposed standards, which were recently submitted to the WTO. USDA and USTR also submitted comments and engaged the government of Vietnam at all levels in Hanoi, Washington and Geneva. The comments and the U.S. government’s interventions urged Vietnam to continue recognizing science-based Codex standards when establishing MRLs for imported red meat.

USMEF later learned from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) staff in Hanoi that the Vietnam Food Administration (VFA) had revised its proposal. Highlights of the revised proposal include:

• The number of compounds proposed with zero tolerance MRL levels has been reduced 12.
• All other compounds have been removed, including the six compounds that were of greatest concern to the United States.
• For those substances which have an established CODEX MRL, Vietnam indicates that it now plans to set the import tolerance MRL for these compounds at the CODEX standard.

UPDATE: In early June, USMEF was advised by USTR that the government of Vietnam had agreed in the context of the recent prime minister’s visit to Washington to leave the Codex MRLs in place and permit beef and pork imports from the United States to continue on that basis. USMEF thanks FAS-Hanoi and USTR for their guidance on this important proceeding, and all who contributed comments and input.