Vietnam told to boost halal food exports

By Vien Thong   November 1, 2023 | 05:05 am PT
Vietnam told to boost halal food exports
Some products with halal certification on display at the forum on Oct. 31, 2023 in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Vien Thong
Countries with large Muslim populations have called on Vietnam to produce and export halal products amid increasing demand for them.

"The halal food industry is a billion-dollar opportunity for which we can cooperate and develop," Agustaviano Sofjan, Indonesia’s consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, said at a forum titled "Cooperation and Development of Halal industry in ASEAN" held in the city on Monday.

With the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia has a halal market of US$180 billion, and it is expected to skyrocket to $281 billion by 2025.

Malaysia also has big demand for halal products.

Rosmizah Binti Mat Jusoh, commercial consul at the Malaysian consulate general in the city, said Vietnam is still new to the halal industry and needs to create an ecosystem for it, and Malaysia could help it through the certification process step by step.

Singapore also has big demand for halal items though Muslims only make up 14% of its population.

Jason Yeo, vice president of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, said his country receives millions of tourists every year from the Middle East and Central Asia. "This makes halal certification extremely important for companies operating in Singapore and our partners across the region and the world."

The Singapore halal market is expected to grow by 8-10% in the next few years, he said.

At the forum, Cao Thi Phi Van, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Investment and Trade Promotion Center, said countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have expressed a desire to collaborate with Vietnam in investing and developing the halal industry.

The global halal economy is worth US$7 trillion and expected to reach $10 trillion before 2028.
The Southeast Asian market alone is worth $230 billion, but Vietnam’s exports of halal products remain minuscule.

Vietnam is among the world’s top 20 exporters, but is nowhere in the list of halal food suppliers.

According to statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the country’s total trade with Muslim countries in the ASEAN region stood at $26.37 billion in the first nine months of this year.

Van said Vietnam has the potential to do well in the regional and global halal markets because of its agricultural and fishery strengths, close proximity to major halal markets and many free trade agreements.

But it only exports around 20 products to halal markets, and 40% of its cities and provinces do not produce halal-certified items for export.

Ly Kim Chi, chairwoman of the Food and Foodstuff Association of Ho Chi Minh City, said on average 50 businesses get their products, mainly seafood, beverages and confectionery, halal-certified every year.

Tee Ramlan, director of the Vietnam Halal Center, said there are around 70 economies to which Vietnam can export halal products. "Thailand and Taiwan already export many halal products, so why doesn’t Vietnam?"

He said the first step is to develop highly skilled human resources for the halal industry.

Van proposed increasing links between HCMC and its neighboring provinces to raise awareness of halal products and form a closed supply chain for them extending to exports.

Recently the Ministries of Science and Technology and Industry and Trade developed four national standards for halal.

In February, the Government had unveiled a scheme for strengthening international cooperation to develop Vietnam’s halal industry for until 2030.

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