Vietnam plans to develop its halal industry

HANOI (Vietnam News/ANN): “Vietnam needs to accelerate the development of its halal industry in the near future to take full advantage of the lucrative market”, said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Quang Hiệu.

Hiệu delivered the statement at a workshop held virtually by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday (Aug 10). The event was one of the ministry’s initiatives to boost Vietnamese exports to the halal market and built a strategic and comprehensive plan for the industry in Vietnam.

Halal foods are “permitted” and “legal” products under Islamic Law with extremely detailed and strict standards.

The global halal market has huge potential and was growing fast with promising prospects due to the Muslim population which was growing globally from South-East Asia, South Asia to the Middle East and North Africa, Hiệu said.

He added the halal economy was very diverse and comprised seven main sectors, including food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, tourism, fashion, Islamic finance, media, and entertainment. In which, food and Islamic finance were two areas less affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The two areas were forecast to recover and further develop after the pandemic.

Particularly, the halal food industry covered not only production and processing but also related to many other fields such as raw materials and logistics services (preservation, packaging, and transportation).

Therefore, the development of the halal food industry, or the larger halal industry, will promote the development of ancillary services and fields.

Meanwhile, the trend of using halal products was also increasing, even among non-Muslims because halal products met environmental and food safety criteria.

But Hiệu said Vietnam’s market share in the global halal market was quite modest as Vietnamese producers had been struggling to obtain halal certification.

According to preliminary statistics from localities, about 58.7 percent of provinces and cities nationwide had initially exported Halal food to foreign markets while nearly 41.3 percent failed to have certified halal products.

Additionally, halal standards and regulations were increasingly tightened and a halal certification was not permanent and equally recognized by countries. Vietnamese firms were also facing stiff competition from many rivals who had already established strong footholds in the Islamic markets, Hiệu added.

However, participants at the event agreed that despite all these, the global halal market remained promising for Vietnam as the country held competitive edges in food production, tourism, textile and garment, and pharmaceuticals, which were dubbed pillars of the halal economy.

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It has also signed many free trade agreements (FTAs), including several new-generation deals, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA), and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

To avoid missing any chance to access the halal market, Vietnam needed to step up international cooperation to shape suitable strategies for the development of the halal industry, they said.

Fostering co-operation in developing regulations and standards for halal products and halal certification organizations in Vietnam in harmony with that of major importing countries would be also needed.

That would facilitate the trade of halal products globally while promoting the exchange of halal products and services of Vietnam with global halal markets, participants suggested.

In the future, Hiệu said, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will work closely with other ministries, agencies, and sectors to draw up development strategies for Vietnam’s halal industry.

Facilitating bilateral and multilateral agreements on mutual recognition of halal certifications and organizations granting halal certification and seeking foreign investment in Vietnam’s halal industry would be also prioritized.

The Global Halal Food Market Report 2021-24 published by DinarStandard estimates the global halal food trade to be valued at US$129 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $140 billion by 2024.

This increasing trend was largely driven by an increase in consumer demand, followed by a rising Muslim population globally, the report said, adding that the industry was also witnessing an increasing preference for convenient, nutritionally enriched, and functional food & beverages amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Islamic economy space had also attracted the attention of top global brands creating innovative products and services across sectors.

The governments of both OIC and non-OIC countries, food companies, and the private sector were making significant investments in the Halal market, according to the report. — Vietnam News/Asia News Network

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