THE CATFISH SAGA IN THE U.S.-VIETNAM TRADE RELATIONSHIP UNDER THE PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: 2009-2014
Author(s)Todd IV, William G.
Contributor(s)Sodhy, Pamela S
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This thesis aims to show that catfish imports from Vietnam to the United States have created substantial friction in the overall U.S.-Vietnam relationship under President Barack Obama. While once former enemies, the United States and Vietnam now enjoy a strong relationship on the political, economic, and sociocultural levels. However, on the economic front, the catfish saga is an irritant in bilateral ties due to the threat that Vietnamese imports pose to the U.S. catfish industry. The scope of the thesis covers the administration of President Obama Administration (2009-2014), roughly six years, and is focused mainly on international trade but is also connected to food safety and human values. The organization is in four parts. Chapter 1, "Introduction: Background Information on U.S.-Vietnam Relations and the Catfish Saga under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush" sets the stage for the rest of the thesis by tracing the bilateral relationship since the Vietnam War and the origins of the catfish saga prior to the Obama period when Vietnam's response to U.S. actions was relatively mild. Chapter 2, "The Catfish Saga under President Barack Obama's First Term: 2009-2012" highlights major U.S. government actions, such as antidumping reviews and the stalled implementation of the catfish inspection program, which sought to improve food safety in the United States and curtail catfish imports from Vietnam. By then, Vietnam's response had stiffened and included bold statements against U.S. actions. Chapter 3, "The Catfish Saga under President Barack Obama's Second Term: 2013-2014" traces more recent developments in the catfish controversy like the Department of Commerce's eighth administrative review, which reinstated antidumping duties on Vietnamese imports, and the 2014 Farm Bill, which reinforced Congressional approval for the catfish inspection program. This chapter also describes more strident Vietnamese reactions, for instance threats of retaliation through the World Trade Organization. Chapter 4, "Conclusion: Analysis of the Catfish Saga under the Obama Administration" will review U.S. government actions before Obama; the similarities and differences in Obama's catfish policy over six years and in Vietnam's reactions; the human values associated with the dispute; and the very complex nature of the catfish controversy in the present U.S.-Vietnam relationship.