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Sunday, 16 September 2007

Malaysian-Thai Global Halal Hub On The Cards?

BANGKOK, Sept 15 (Bernama) -- Southern Thailand and the northern part of peninsular Malaysia can join forces to create a viable international halal business environment as a win-win situation for both sides.Southern Thailand can be the source of basic and raw materials while the Malaysian states in the north can provide the capacity and expertise in the manufacturing sector, a combination that can spur a strong industrial base for halal products and services.This is being seen in the larger context of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT), which can be both a driver and consumer of the halal business sector due to its combined Muslim population.In this context, Malaysia's Northern Coridor Economic Region (NCER), encompassing Perlis, Kedah, Penang and northern Perak, can become the engine of growth for the IMT-GT in the halal sector, as Perlis has been earmarked to be a halal logistics centre in NCER.This is the broad picture gleaned by a Malaysian delegation following its goodwill visit to Bangkok this week to cement bilateral cooperation in the halal sector."We have come away with a better view of what the opportunities are in Thailand in terms of investing," World Halal Forum chairman Khairy Jamaluddin told Bernama. He had led the 32-strong team which included Halal Industry Development Corporation chief executive officer Datuk Jamil Bidin."We can source raw materials particularly livestock from southern Thailand while Malaysia can offer expertise in processing and packaging. It's a matter of a supply chain from initial producers to end users."Thai businessmen have also been looking at how halal parks are being set up and managed, especially those in the Northern Corridor like Perlis as well as in the Eastern Corridor, and see how they can supply the ingredients for the halal food products made in these parks, he said.Bringing economic development to Muslim-majority southern Thailand was among the suggestions Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made during a recent visit to Thailand as one of the ways to elevate economic activities in those provinces and thus improve the lot of the people there and ease the security tension in those areas.Khairy said: "We are exploring ways of working together in southern Thailand. We believe if we can bring some investment into these areas, it will help to resolve some problems there."I also believe IMT-GT is a good concept for the halal sector because the three areas - southern Thailand, northern Malaysia and northern Sumatra in Indonesia - have large Muslim populations which demands lots of halal products."IMT-GT, established as an economic network, encompasses North Sumatera and Acheh in Indonesia; Kedah, Perlis, Penang and Perak in Malaysia; and Satun, Narathiwat, Yala, Songkhla and Pattani in Thailand, with a total population of about 20.5 million people.Meanwhile, WHF director Nordin Abdullah said the NCER, one of whose key drivers is agriculture, has also been recognised as the heart of IMT-GT."Once the economic activities in the Northern Corridor take off, it will create a huge benefit or spill-over effect for everyone in that area and the halal food industry will play a big part in this," he noted.During the Bangkok visit, the delegation, which comprised representatives of not only government agencies but also the private sector, visited the Halal Science Centre at Chulalongkorn University here and met the deputy ministers for industry and foreign affairs, Piyabut Cholvijarn and Sawanit Kongsiri respectively.Malaysia is aggressively promoting itself as a world halal hub while Thailand is keen to project itself as the hub of the halal industry in terms of services like hospitals, restaurants and tourism.
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Alfalah Consulting - KL: www.alfalahconsulting.com 
Islamic finance consultant: www.ahmad-sanusi-husain.com 
Islamic Investment Malaysia: www.islamic-invest-malaysia.com

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