|Vietnamese firms showcase their products at a recent Halal exhibition in Malaysia. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Nhuong
According to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the global Halal industry is forecast to be worth US$3.6 trillion by 2021, with food and drink accounting for US$2 trillion.
Halal refers to any action or behaviour that is permissible in Islam, and requires animals to be slaughtered in a particular way and after a prayer.
Muslim countries with large demand are the UAE, Kuwait, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The UAE is the second largest economy in the Middle East, a regional commercial and financial centre and the third largest transshipment hub and re-export centre globally.
It has huge demand for various products, with its imports being worth US$265 billion last year.
Kuwait also needs to import all sorts of goods because of its unfavourable conditions in terms of land and workers.
But so far, the market share of Vietnamese products in these countries remains modest.
For instance, Vietnam’s share of the UAE’s imports last year was less than 2% at US$5 billion.
According to experts, demand in the market is increasing, offering Vietnamese firms a great chance to boost exports of products such as tea, coffee, dried and canned fruits, canned drinks, and charcoal.
Their exports to Kuwait are worth only US$70-75 million out of a total of US$30 billion.
Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hang, head of the marketing division at the Halal Certification Agency in Vietnam, said this market does not have technical and tariff barriers like the US or EU but requires strict Halal standards.
Tran Phan Te, general director of Lai Phu Joint Stock Company which has exported products to Muslim markets in the Middle East, said to obtain Halal certification, companies must undergo a food processing procedures audit.
Hang said many businesses only know that Halal products are those not tainted by pork but do not know they must also meet other requirements.
Since there are very few Muslims in Vietnam, local companies are still not familiar with Halal standards, which are different in each country, complicating the issue somewhat, she said.
But she and many other experts encouraged Vietnamese businesses to understand Halal requirements to step up exports to Muslim countries.