Halal recognition opens door for UAE food exports to Malaysia
The Malaysian Department of Islamic Development, Jakim, gave the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) official recognition of its "UAE Halal Products Control System" following a review by Malaysian officials.
In order to get a halal certificate, food must be guaranteed by qualified Islamic scholars who can label the product as edible for Muslim consumers.
The recognition paves way for UAE halal products to be exported to Malaysia and 60 other markets that accept Malaysian halal certification.
"This UAE-led initiative, the first of its kind in the Middle East, will open up horizons to exporters in the country... especially for markets of East and Southeast Asia and Australasia," said Abdullah Abdul Qader Al-Maeeni, director-general of ESMA.
Malaysia is keen to move trade ties with Gulf countries away from petrochemicals by building a so-called halal ecosystem between Southeast Asia and the GCC.
"The focus is no longer only on the petroleum sector. The new economic strategy will be about developing halal products and goods,” Malaysian deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said earlier this year.
It was first revealed that Malaysia and the UAE begun a process to recognise ESMA's halal standards back in 2014, though progress has proved to be slow in achieving their goal.
The deal with Malaysia began as part of a “hub-to-hub” strategy devised by Dubai food authorities, whereby halal products can be delivered and received at approved and accredited zones.
“The Islamic world has to create its own standards and Muslim populations in the rest of the world need somebody they can trust. This is as much about international standards as about the Muslim world,” said Mohammed Al Gergawi, chairman of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, the body formed to push Dubai’s aim to be “capital of the Islamic economy”, when talks began.
According to official figures, bilateral trade between the UAE and Malaysia amounted to US$6.1bn last year, with UAE exports amounting to US$3.59bn.