Kuala Lumpur – Hundreds of delegates from around the world are meeting in Malaysia to probe ways of merging halal goods and services into an integrated economy.
“This convergence will make both industries stronger and give us a more resolute voice in the international business scene,” Abdalhamid Evans, director of the World Halal Forum (WHF), told attendees.
Delegates from over 40 countries started meetings in Kuala Lumpur on Monday to discuss how to merge halal goods and services, according to Zawya website.
“Today we have witnessed the start of Halal 2.0, a transformation of mindsets towards value-based products and services which in turn will give rise to areas of new growth and wealth creation.”
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Islamic finance is also one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry.
Currently, there are nearly 300 Islamic banks and financial institutions worldwide, whose assets are predicted to grow to $1 trillion by 2013.
“We have taken the bull by the horns, so to speak, to steer the two Shariah-based industries towards a holistic Halal Economy that includes all sectors, from farm to fork to finance,” Evans said.
The WHF is also seeking to drat standards to give Muslim countries a framework to regulate the halal industry.
“We, as Muslims, are not in control of the supply chain,” Darhim Hashim, the chief executive officer of the International Halal Integrity Alliance, told Reuters.
Estimated by $2 trillion industry, the global halal industry is regarded as a vast but difficult market.
Covering a huge Muslim population all over the world, the industry faces many difficulties, basically the different levels of countries’ development and lack of regulatory infrastructure.
“We cannot say that we can accept everything that comes into the country is halal so at the very basic level is some kind of import regulation,” Hashim said.
“That in return leads to a standard.”
Addressing the event, former Malaysian premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he was optimistic on the prospects of the halal economy in his country.
“We have a big hub for the halal industry in Malaysia,” he said.
“It is getting bigger and bigger. More people are showing interest in our services and products.”
A huge Malaysia’s halal industry was worth RM15bil.
The halal industry is growing by 5 percent every year.“By 2020, we see the halal industry contributing 5% to Malaysia’s gross domestic product, with a huge portion of this coming from the services sector,” said Jamil Bidin, managing director of Halal Industry Development Corp.