1. I am honoured to welcome you to the 5th World Halal Forum, where key stakeholders of the Global Halal Industry from over fifty countries have gathered here in Kuala Lumpur. Over 900 delegates from both government and private sectors are here to discuss and deliberate on various issues of significance to the Halal industry in line with this year’s WHF theme, ‘State of the Industry: Market Access and International Trade’
2. Participation in this event continues to rise each year, reflecting the forum’s importance and its role as a crucial enabler in both developing and setting the agenda for the Global Halal Industry.
3. Today marks the beginning of Halal Malaysia week, during which a series of international events will take place, beginning with the 5th World Halal Forum, followed by the 3rd World Halal research summit, and culminating with the 7th International Halal Showcase (MIHAS). I am extremely pleased to see that Malaysia is once again the focal point, not just for Halal trade, but also in thought leadership.
4. The Halal Malaysia week, a joint three-party effort between Kasehdia Sdn Bhd (for WHF), Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation or MATRADE (for MIHAS) and the Halal Industry Development Corporation or HDC (for WHR Summit) is an excellent example of public-private partnership initiatives to advance the Halal industry to the forefront of The Global Economy. Historically, Halal Malaysia Week has been a focal point for global industry players, with deals and transactions in 2008 amounting to RM 2.2 billion and increasing to RM 3.23 billion in 2009. This year this figure is expected to exceed RM 3.8 billion. Halal Malaysia Week firmly positions Malaysia as a beacon of the Global Halal Industry, highlighting Malaysia’s thought leadership credentials and its strong statement of intent to be the World’s Halal Hub.
Ladies and gentlemen,
5. Halal brings together Muslims across all cultures and ethnicities. It is also has the potential to be a conduit for greater harmony and acceptance across national and cultural boundaries. Such harmonization was clearly demonstrated by the University of Massachusetts who in 2008 strove to serve Halal food in their dining halls, as well as in bistros and hotels in Beijing who saw the value of being Halal, and finally, with the 5 star “Hotel Kunlan” serving Halal cuisine exclusively in one of its restaurants.
6. Halal is a growing industry that seeks to be culturally inclusive. It is based on wholesome Islamic values that have a universal appeal. Halal as a brand is a reassurance of safety, quality and humane treatment of animals. It embodies values that are not just for Muslims, but for everyone.
7. As a Muslim leader, I am reaching out to Muslims and those of other faiths globally. Join us in this altruistic endeavour and together we can benefit from the Halal economy, which has enormous and still largely untapped potential.
8. Halal must continue its journey towards becoming the premium brand recognised throughout the world as a symbol of quality and excellence. In the Halal sector, the critical component of integrity is traditionally carried out by Islamic bodies. As such, it is imperative that best practices are incorporated by these bodies in order to be better position them to protect the integrity of the Halal Market.
9. There are over 300 bodies globally offering Halal certification; typically these are Islamic associations, and at times even a “one-man” show. Only one third of these are legally registered entities. Only 15 percent of them are recognised by JAKIM, Malaysia’s National Body for Islamic Development as well as certification. But we must ask, how many are accredited in line with international benchmarks and hence capable of certifying based on international standards? At the same time, related industries must bear in mind that the Halal industry cannot exist without solid Syariah foundations, and therefore must continue to inculcate and reflect Islamic values. This is a crucial point in maintaining the integrity of the Halal products and services.
10. In order to overcome the major hurdles and challenges that lie ahead for the Halal industry, we must work to establish and maintain strong strategic alliances with mainstream players. And we must leverage the best expertise available if we Muslims are to advance in this field. I foresee powerful synergies as a result of smart partnerships between mainstream industry and Muslim organisations. Muslims must seize opportunities to propel themselves into higher value-added activities and knowledge-based skills, such as quality assurance and compliance, training, management and branding.
Ladies and gentlemen,
11. My government is offering our expertise and years of experience in Halal certification and standards development. The Department of Standards Malaysia has adopted the most stringent methodology of benchmarking against international best practices in developing Malaysian Halal standards. This methodology has been provided to other countries as part of our duty to spearhead the establishment and promotion international best practices.
12. The year 2000 saw the introduction of Malaysia’s first Halal Standard, MS1500. Since its creation, this standard has undergone 2 revisions, the latest MS1500:2009. This proves Malaysia’s immense and meticulous capacity for developing standards at national level. Discussing such standards at the international level presents an entirely new set of challenges.
13. Malaysia has sought to highlight and therefore extend the gift of Halal awareness to the world. Through events like The World Halal Forum and MIHAS, as well as the tireless efforts of the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) and The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Halal has been accepted as an industry in its own right. This acceptance has grown to such an extent that mainstream industry is gravitating to Halal. Because of this fact, now is the time to capitalise on this acceptance, beginning with laying the foundation for uniformity.
14. Malaysia’s seeks to amplify our role by working towards The Development of Global Standards within the larger Halal industry. I am pleased to announce today, that The International Halal Integrity Alliance (IHI), an initiative born out of The World Halal Forum, has moved one step closer to achieving the goal of a harmonised Halal industry with the publication of 4 modules of The Global Halal Standard. I am proud to say that this was achieved with vital input from JAKIM, and Standards Malaysia as well as from international stakeholders. Having obtained the mandate together with The Islamic Chamber Of Commerce And Industry (ICCI) at the OIC Islamic Summit in Dakar, Senegal in March 2008, the IHI Alliance is now strongly poised to establish itself as the global halal authority and may begin the process of unifying a fragmented community.
Ladies and gentlemen,
15. Another area of strength for Malaysia is Islamic Finance. Islamic banking should take on a leadership position in the banking world. Islamic banks have not been as affected by the recent economic meltdown because syariah-compliant banks are set up based on real economy. Islamic Finance took root in Malaysia over 45 years ago, our legal framework and architecture are already strong and robust whilst the world its just beginning to embrace the concept. Malaysia is regarded as an authority in this sector and we are more than happy to contribute our experience and expertise to spur Islamic Finance Development on a global level as evidenced by the establishment of Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC).
16. From Malaysia’s leadership we must move towards the bigger picture and not just focus on sectoral issues. The Muslim world should collaborate to act and think beyond conventional frameworks and wisdom. Muslim Nations should unite to form a New Economic Model, and I urge all parties to merge individual silos, to strengthen our economies for the benefit of the ummah. For this, My Government continues to pledge Malaysia’s support wherever it is needed and sought.
Ladies and gentlemen,
17. We need to think beyond industries and move into the larger realm of a Halal Economy. A value based economy rooted in trust, integrity and fairness. And why not? Halal has thrived and will continue to thrive on innovation. Furthermore, Muslims account for one fifth of the global population, with between 1.4 and 1.8 billion spread across 148 countries worldwide, and these numbers continue to grow.
18. Islam is the fastest growing religion both through birth and conversion. As the new generation of Muslims are better educated and able to obtain a higher income level, many sectors are creating products and services to cater to this growing consumer demand. This coupled with the larger acceptance of Halal by those of other faiths has resultedin the Halal mindset transforming from being just food products to the ‘farm to fork approach.’ This has, in turn, triggered demands in other areas, such as non-food consumer products, Islamic Finance, logistics and other sectors such as tourism.
19. The Global Halal products market is estimated at USD 2.3 trillion, not including banking. Research by The World Halal Forum secretariat found 67 percent, or USD 1.4 trillion, of this market is comprised of food & beverage. Pharmaceuticals make up 22 percent or USD 506 billion, with cosmetics & personal care totalling us 230 billion. If we include the services sector for Halal, and we should give this serious consideration, the potential size of the total market is astronomical.
20. This is the mark of an economy in its infancy, and with concerted effort, we can nurture it into a thriving, robust economy. Taking this into consideration, I applaud all of you for participating in a forum such as WHF. Each of us understands that the work we do here can ultimately boost labour, capital, land resources, both supply and demand, leading to overall economic development particularly for Muslims.
Ladies and gentlemen,
21. The theme of this fifth edition of WHF is ‘State of The Industry: Market Access and International Trade’ is timely. Realising the potential of the Halal industry requires a thorough understanding of all the issues and challenges that face it. We’ve aimed high and achieved a lot, but it is time to take stock and realistically assess our progress in order to effectively re-evaluate our strategies, ensuring that we’re on the right track to fully capitalise on enormous untapped potential that remains. Consensus and cooperation, especially among Muslim nations, will be critical to our success. I ask all those involved to focus on practical and effective measures towards this theme, and not become hindered with pedantic exertions.
22. I commend private organisations, such as Kasehdia, who on their own initiative, have brought Government and Private sectors together over the years, enabling various stakeholders in The Halal Industry to sit at the same table and discuss issues affecting our Ummah, not only in Malaysia but globally. We have progressed into an era of private business enterprise, and should take the lead in developing initiatives and innovative frameworks for universal good and betterment of society.
23. The Government of Malaysia will continue to support The World Halal Forum and Halal Malaysia Week and continue to encourage all key players to show their support and commitment towards this worthy cause.
24. I take this opportunity to thank all sponsors and supporters of The World Halal Forum and Halal Malaysia Week; I am pleased to see the private sector taking a leading role in the development of this industry. I wish to specially thank the Dallah Albaraka Group for becoming platinum sponsor of The World Halal Forum, demonstrating Islamic Finance and banking’s synergy with Halal, and I also thank International Halal Integrity Alliance for hosting the 2010 World Halal Forum.
25. I pray for Allah’s grace and blessings for a productive and successful forum over the next two days. On that note with the recitation of Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, it is my pleasure to now officially declare The World Halal Forum 2010, open.
Wabillahitaufiq Walhidayah Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.