Saudi, UAE keen on building halal ecosystem within Malaysia, says Zahid

AZURA ABAS

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will optimise on its strong ties with Saudi Arabia, following the recent visit by King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud, to boost the country's halal initiatives.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among the nations which had expressed a keen interest in building a halal ecosystem with Malaysia.

"The focus is no longer only on the petroleum sector. The new economic strategy will be about developing halal products and goods,” he said in a statement after chairing the first Halal Malaysia Council meeting today.

Zahid said the council had also deliberated on the need to form a permanent secretariat to ensure the country's National Halal Policy would be developed, coordinated and monitored in a holistic manner.

"The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) will be the permanent secretariat for the council and Jakim's Halal Hub division will be strengthened with other agencies under the National Blue Ocen Strategy (NBOS)," he said.

The deputy prime minister said the council would not work in silo, but would instead involve key people from various ministries and agencies.

He said more must be done to boost the ‘Halal Malaysia’ ecosystem, which would require all ministries' halal initiatives to move in sync towards concrete objectives.

Zahid added that the council had also deliberated on other halal-related initiatives including on the development of certification, standards, accreditation and laboratory testing services, research and development as well as developing the halal industry itself.