Washington International Law Journal


Since the end of the Vietnam War, relations between the United States and Vietnam have been largely based on trade, causing both cooperation and conflict. Beginning in the 1990s, economic exchange between the two nations was encouraged through the 1994 lifting of the post-war trade embargo, the 1998 waiver of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, and the signing of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement in 2000. Vietnam's successful catfish industry was born of this cooperation but, soon after the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement went into effect, became the source of international controversy. U.S. catfish farmers responded to competition from lower-priced Vietnamese catfish beginning with an advertising campaign and later by lobbying Congress for strict product labeling laws. U.S. farmers then filed an anti-dumping complaint with the U.S. Department of Commerce ("DOC"), which resulted in the United States imposing anti-dumping tariffs on imported Vietnamese catfish. The Vietnamese catfish farmers challenged the DOC with a still-pending lawsuit in the U.S. Court of International Trade ("CIT"). Unfortunately, the CIT is not a stabilizing force in this conflict because of its structural defects. The CIT's deferential standard of review provides no significant check on the discretion of the DOC, thus reducing the DOC's accountability. Moreover, CIT decisions provide no precedential value and thus no guidance to parties in future cases. In order to be effective and promote U.S. foreign trade relations, the CIT should consider modifying its procedures for review of trade disputes.

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