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Thailand aims to become halal hub

By YANG WANLI in Bangkok | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-01 10:06


Thailand approved several initiatives in hope of propelling it to become Southeast Asia's new halal hub by 2028, further promoting Thai food and other products worldwide while enhancing the kingdom's tourism.

The cabinet made the approvals on Tuesday, under which the government will establish a national halal industry committee and a Thai halal industry center, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said.

Srettha said he discussed plans to jointly develop a halal food center with the king of Brunei and the prime minister of Malaysia. He also revealed that the plan will increase Thailand's GDP by 1.2 percent, equivalent to 55 billion baht ($1.53 billion).

Halal refers to food and other products that adhere to Islamic dietary laws. Many Muslim-majority regions and countries have established organizations and agencies responsible for certifying and labeling certain products as halal, which includes countries in Southeast Asia.

The market size of the global halal industry reached $2.4 trillion last year, according to statistics from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

It is estimated that consumer spending on halal products will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 7.5 percent, meaning that the total will hit $2.8 trillion by 2025.

Currently, Brazil is the world's largest exporter of halal food products. And in Asia, Thailand ranks third after Indonesia and Malaysia.

Thailand's export value of halal food products in the first 11 months of 2023 amounted to 217 billion baht, a 2.6 percent gain year-on-year, according to the Thai Ministry of Industry.

There are more than 15,000 halal food producers and about 3,500 halal food establishments in Thailand. The majority of these exports were halal food products such as rice, grains and sugar cane.

Popular destination

Apart from halal food, Thailand also enjoys advantages in halal tourism as it is a popular destination for Muslim tourists.

"We have promising opportunities to export our products worldwide, especially in Africa and Saudi Arabia. This is also a great chance to promote Thailand's tourism resources," Srettha said.

To build up the country as a regional hub for halal products, the government will focus on five categories, namely food, fashion, pharmaceuticals and herbal products, cocoa, services and tourism, deputy government spokesman Rudklao Suwankiri said.

Apart from boosting tourism, she said the plan will also create about 100,000 jobs per year, the newspaper Bangkok Post reported.

Thai Industry Minister Pimphattra Wichaikul said she plans to set up a public organization in charge of promoting the halal food industry, which would be upgraded to a department under her ministry later.

The ministry has also revealed its grand vision extends further — a Halal Economic Corridor that spans key provinces and districts, including Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Satun.

This corridor aims to enhance livelihoods and expand various halal products and services, encompassing food, fashion and tourism.

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