By world News Report Bureau
In 2004, when Malaysia launched its first Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) in Kuala Lumpur, the then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his speech declared that establishing Malaysia as a global halal hub was a major priority for the government and that MIHAS was the largest halal trade expo to be held anywhere in the world (aside from Gulfood in Dubai, UAE). Halal products and services in Malaysia cover a wide range of products that extend from food and beverage to accommodation, attire, insurance, financial products, cosmetics, and personal hygiene. As of June 2011, Malaysia’s halal industry was estimated to be worth MYR 56 billion a year whereas the global market was estimated at US2.5 trillion.
Malaysia’s global halal hub concept aims to create opportunities for small and medium enterprises, or SME’s, to penetrate the halal markets in the Middle East, OIC countries, and globally. Shockingly, in 2011, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mukhriz Mahathir, announced that Native Malays held only 30 % of the 4787 halal certificates so far issued by JAKIM in the food and beverage industry. In reality, the halal industry is dominated by non-Muslims and non-Muslim countries producing halal food and beverages for export. This is despite the fact that being certified halal could be a ticket to growth outside of Malaysia. The reason for these figures may include the cost associated with halal certification in Malaysia. It costs up to MYR 2,000 to get a two-year certificate for each product. The market potential is huge for halal products especially in ASEAN, the Middle East, and China and therefore, more steps should be taken to enable the Native Malaysian population to access affordable halal certification from JAKIM.
As part of its global halal hub policy, the Malaysian government has taken measures in both its Second Industrial Master Plan (1996 – 2005) and the National Agricultural Policy (1998-2010) to support the industry through the creation of a number of halal parks in the country. Halal parks are an effective instrument in clustering a big part of a halal value chain geographically in a country. Next to clustering advantages such as shortening of supply chain, cost reductions, innovations, etc., halal parks can create a strong base for halal food products and allow enforcing of a common halal standard more efficiently