Malaysia, Saudi Arabia to finalise halal industry’s strategic partnership

MoC will allow Malaysia to export local halal products and expertise, and solidify trade relations between the 2 countries

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

Halal Industry Development Corp (HDC) is finalising its strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, said CEO Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin.

Jamil said HDC is finalising a memorandum of cooperation (MoC), which allows Malaysia to export local halal products and expertise, and solidify the growing trade relations between the two countries.

“Currently, we are focusing on sealing a deal with Saudi Arabia to export our halal goods and services. We are also looking at potential investments in Saudi Arabia and vice versa,” Jamil told reporters after a media briefing on the Halal Fiesta (Halfest) Asean 2017 yesterday.

The partnership with Saudi Arabia, said Jamil, is one of the results of Saudi Arabia’s ruler King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud’s maiden visit to Malaysia this year.

Jamil explained that the partnership has grown on the back of Malaysia’s intention to tap into new markets.

“We also look at this relation with Saudi Arabia as a gateway for us to penetrate the Middle-Eastern region and open the door to a new market segment,” added Jamil.

“Although China has been the major exporting country for us, followed by Singapore, we are looking at countries with the most market potential.”

He also said that the South Asian region is one potential market that can be explored, considering its Muslim population of up to 500 million.

“On strengthening our local halal market, halal entrepreneurs have the wrong perception on how to do it. They cannot solely rely on halal logo and certificates in marketing their products,” he added.

“Business strategy and innovation have to be put in place to attract the market, even the international market, and that can be done through participation in exhibitions.”

Halfest Asean 2017 facilitates the growth of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro-companies in globalising Malaysia’s halal products.

“Local SMEs have raised their concern on the difficulty of penetrating the global halal market and Halfest Asean was created as a response to that,” he said.

Registered halal companies in Malaysia stood at more than 7,000 companies with 90% being SMEs.

In its sixth years, this year’s edition will feature more than 150,000 halal products, ranging from food and beverage (F&B), clothes and services.

“We will showcase both food and non-food products, with F&B taking up almost 80% of products we are offering. We also provide 550 booths for entrepreneurs to take up, and as of now, there are few booths left,” Jamil said.

The exhibition will be taking place from Aug 23 till Aug 27 at Seri Kembangan.

Malaysia’s halal exports are projected to grow between 5% and 6% this year from the RM42.18 billion recorded last year.

Halal exports have also been targeted to reach RM50 billion by 2020 and expected to contribute 8.5% to the nation’s gross domestic product, with a major portion coming from the F&B sector.