HALAL Industry Development Corp (HDC) has engaged five Asian organisations to promote bilateral trade and investment in the global halal market.
They are from Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, representing leading manufacturers and service providers in food supplies, hotel chains, medical centres, cosmetics, fertiliser production and others.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed had meetings and networking sessions with these agencies, here, yesterday.
Speaking to reporters later, Mustapa said the government is hopeful that the collaboration will raise greater awareness of the halal market in non-Islamic countries and attract investments in the halal industry, which is valued at more than US$2.3 trillion (RM7.44 trillion) annually.
He said halal products are not just limited to food but also cover pharmaceutical and other services, such as Islamic finance.
"Not many are aware of this and we hope this collaboration will not just create more halal products and services but also increase awareness and investments in the industry."
Mustapa said the biggest interest comes from Japan, which wants to tap into the Malaysian halal industry and use it as a springboard to penetrate markets in Europe and the Middle East. Japan is Malaysia's top source of foreign direct investments and a potential destination for halal trade, he added.
In terms of Malaysia's halal exports to Japan, HDC expects the figure to grow to RM936 million in 2015 from RM274 million in 2010.
HDC chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin said Malaysia's halal exports to East Asian markets last year was valued at US$2.5 billion, constituting 26.9 per cent of the total halal exports that year.
He said China was the leading halal export destination at US$1.2 billion, followed by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The major export items comprised halal ingredients, halal food and beverages and halal palm oil derivatives.
Jamil said HDC has met with several local companies in Japan which are keen to become halal-compliant by using Malaysia's expertise, while Hong Kong and Taiwan will use their status as leading trade centres to market halal products.
As for South Korea, Malaysian companies can work with the halal agency there to access the country's pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, he said.