Malaysia's Halal Products Welcomed In China

From Hisham Abdul Hamid

BEIJING (China) (Bernama) -- 'Halal headscarves'? Malaysians will find it ridiculous hearing this as there is no such thing as 'halal headscarves'.

However, at the International Malaysia Product Centre (IMPC) in Erdaoqio Bazar in Urumqi City, the capital of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, customers have been looking high and low for the 'halal headscarves'.

Winston Chia Sze Wei who runs the IMPC said when he first conducted a study on the acceptance of Malaysian products in Urumqi where half of its population is Muslims, he learnt that the locals there have high regards for halal products from Malaysia.

"They asked me whether if I will be bringing in 'halal headscarves' from Malaysia. The Chinese Muslims are very confident of the products endorsed by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) and are ready to pay a premium for the products," said Chia.

Chia said this when he met the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek who was in Beijing recently during Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's visit to China. Chia who has been residing in China for the last 22 years, dealing with halal products.

MALAYSIANS TAPPING INTO CHINA'S HALAL MARKET

Chia is not alone in capitalising on China's vast halal market. Chia's contemporary Loh Wee Keng, dubbed as the "China's King of Durian" also noted of the high demand for halal agricultural produce in the country.

Loh felt Malaysia has to venture into the much untapped Chinese halal market by holding discussions with Chinese government to allow more halal agricultural produce to enter the country.

Loh, is the first one to bring the deep freezed durians to China in 2010. He has been in the halal agro food industry for more than a decade and operates the Malaysia Halal Pavilion at the International Commodity Market, Yiwu City, Zhejiang Province.

DOORS ARE NOW OPEN FOR MALAYSIAN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE

Chia and Loh are among the Malaysians doing business in China who met up with Ahmad Shabery during Najib's visit there. During the visit, Malaysia signed an MoU with China on the cooperation in agriculture and the examination, quarantine and hygiene protocol in exporting unprocessed bird's nest.

Through the MoU, Malaysia could export its agricultural produce to China and help bolster two way trade.

Currently among the agricultural produce from Malaysia allowed into China are mangosteen, watermelon, rambutan, coconut, papaya, deep freezed durian pulp, and processed bird's nest.

Under the new protocol, Malaysia will be allowed to export unprocessed bird's nest.

MORE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE IN THE FUTURE

Meanwhile, Ahmad Shabery said his ministry would continue discussions with China to enable more Malaysian agricultural produce to make inroads into China. Among the items being considered are pineapples, jack fruit, durians (whole fruit), ornamental fishes, and chicken feet and organs.

Shabery is confident that Malaysian halal industry players will tap into the vast Chinese market.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Agricultural Attache in China Aszmy Mahmood Yusof Mohamad noted that Malaysian food and agricultural produce, especially halal producers, have huge potential in the nation of 1.3 billion people.

However, he reminded Malaysian exporters that Chinese consumers were very discerning and hence the products have to be of quality and competitively priced.

BERNAMA