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Remarks by Ambassador Huang Huikang at the World Halal Conference 2015
2015/04/02

The Honorable Tan Sri Michael Yeoh,

Colleagues,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am very pleased to attend World Halal Conference 2015 (WHC 2015) and speak at the Ambassador's Panel.

The theme of this session"Global Food Supply Chain: The Socio-Economic Impact Perspective" reminds me of three Chinese old saying:民以食为天,食以安为先,政以民为本. Food is the first demand for people, while safety is the basic requirement for food. Government should always give prominence to the people. I think these matters are still the most important tasks of governments.

Today, I would like to talk about the challenges and opportunities that for the participation of China halal food industry in global food supply chain.

In today's globalized economy, the length and depth of global food supply chain have been far beyond our imagination. WHO food safety expert once said: If you eat a piece of pizza, the materials and services which may involve more than 30 countries and 100 companies. This trend will bring tremendous opportunities and huge social and economic impact.

China food industry has been gradually integrated into the global food supply chain. Chinese farms have become the suppliers of international food industry giants, such as McDonald's, KFC, while China food enterprise Shuanghui has acquired US meat production giant Smithfield Foods.

The halal food sector is an integral component to the global food supply chain, but in China, halal food industry is still in its infancy and its participation in the global food supply chain is at low level. China has a Muslim population of over 20 million. Ten of China's 55 minority groups are predominantly Muslim. They live all over China, especially in the northwest region such as Xinjiang, Gansu, Ningxia and Qinghai. China's halal industry plays an important role in the economy of these places. It is estimated that the total output value of China's halal food industry is more that USD 50 billion and the employment is nearly one million. The trade volume of global halal food is about USD 150 billion every year, while China exports only USD 100 million, less than 0.1% of total volume. This fact shows China's halal food industry is almost negligible in the international market, but at the other hand, it opens great potential opportunities for development in the future.

In order to achieve leapfrog development, China's halal food industry must deeply participate in the global food supply chain.

There exists great opportunities:

As for the domestic economic situation, China is pushing forward economic restructuring and promoting balanced regional economic development. Halal food industry has great significance for promoting the development of northwest region, increasing income and employment. At the same time, China has huge production capacity, comprehensive logistics system, as well as excellent infrastructure. All of these will provide a solid foundation for China to participate in the global halal food supply chain and ensure great potential for development.

As for the international situation, the value of the global halal food market is close to USD 700 billion and the demand for halal food is growing rapidly every year. In recent years, food safety issue has received great attention. More and more non-Muslims have interest in halal food because its strict standards and requirements. Trust of the people will bring limitless future for halal food industry. Another important opportunity is joint development of "Economic Belt along the Silk Road" and "Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century". There are huge Muslims populations along the "Road" and "Belt". The huge market will bring new opportunities for China halal food industry.

Of course, China's halal food industry is also facing some challenges:

First, it is difficult for China halal food companies to get halal certification which is the biggest challenge for China's halal food industry to participate in the global food supply chain. China still doesn't have a national halal certification organization or standard, China's halal certification has not been recognized by Muslims abroad yet. Meanwhile, Chinese companies have to spend lots of time and money to go through the complicated procedures to apply for international halal certification.

Second, we are lack of well-known halal food brands. After decades of development, China has a number of world famous enterprises, but China's halal food companies are mostly small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is difficult for them to widely use modern technology and standardized operation. Their low productivity makes them at disadvantage status when they participate in the global food supply chain.

Third, the capability of halal food research and development is weak. China halal food industry mostly produces primary commodities. They must increase the diversity of products and develop more products in line with the global Muslim market.

There is a long way to go if China halal food industry wants to be an important player in the global food supply chain. We hope to enhance international cooperation in this area in the future.

In October 2013, China and Malaysia signed The Five Year Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation, halal industry has been one of the most important areas for bilateral cooperation in the next 5 years. Malaysia is the few countries in the world where the governments provide full support in promoting halal certification process on products and services, and Malaysian halal certification is recognized and well-accepted worldwide. We encourage Chinese halal food companies to apply for Malaysian halal certification and invest in Malaysia. Their products will be more easily accepted by Muslims both at local and in other Muslim countries. We can also jointly explore and develop the international halal market. I believe that there are broad prospects on halal food industry cooperation between us.

Thank you!

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