Global Standards Needed To Promote Halal Industry, Says US Envoy

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 (Bernama) — Malaysia and other Asean members need
to come up with universal standards in their effort to promote the
halal industry, according to US ambassador to Malaysia, James R. Keith.

Keith said Malaysia could work with the other Asean countries to
come up with globalised standards like what had been practised under
the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“There are American firms interested in the halal industry in the
region but they are holding back for now due to the lack of agreement
on global standards,” he told Bernama in an interview recently.

“We have to find way to come up with universal standards and one way for that to happen is transparency,” he said.

Keith said by having universal standards, investors would notice
the potential of the halal industry and be interested to invest in
Asean member countries which comprised a market of 550 million.

Saying that if Malaysia has one standard while the other countries
in the region have different standards, which are also different from
the Middle East standards, Keith said: “I don’t think it is going to

He said if US manufacturers were to produce for the halal
industry, they would do so under certain conditions, including
economies of scale and arranging the production lines to suit needs.

It would be difficult for any US manufacturer to produce only for Malaysia, which has only about 30 million people, he added.

On transparency, Keith said the more transparent that Malaysia could be on matters relating to the halal industry, the better.

“For example, if a change takes place in this area, it is important to notify all concerned as an obligation,” he said.

Keith said the halal industry was likely to attract outside interest because in the end, it was all about economics.

“Malaysia can make the standards higher, tougher and more
ambitious and in the marketplace, these can help to create a brand,” he
said, adding that health and safety issues should also be taken into

The envoy called on the Asean countries to work together on the
halal issue although Malaysia has first-mover advantage with the
efforts it has taken.

“To make the competition works, there has to be transparency and of course, it needs to work economically,” he said.