By Ahmad Fuad Yahya
JAKARTA, June 12 (Bernama) — Malaysia will continue championing for the establishment of an equitable market in the light of global economic competition as a free market has shown not to bring benefits to all parties, said International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.
He said the message had frequently been conveyed at various economic forums such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia taking place here now.
“If we look back at the financial and economic crisis afflicting the world in 2009, it is clear that among the causes was extreme greed and it was fortunate that Malaysia was not involved.
“However, as the 27th largest trading nation in the world, we were affected by the vagaries of the international market as a result of the crisis,” he said when met, here.
Mukhriz who is in Jakarta to attend the WEF on East Asia, said Malaysia had no intention of opposing global development but to tell the world that there were areas which should be given due attention as the process of globalisation could adversely affect some countries and their people.
With regard to this, he said Malaysia was seeking its ‘blue ocean’ with the halal industry which was not limited to the food sector but also encompassed banking, transportation, cosmetics and medicine.
“In the early stages when Malaysia proposed the halal industry as an agenda for discussion by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), it was not well received by some countries but following our explanation on its importance, many began to accept the idea.
“Today, the value of the halal industry in the world has exceeded US$2.7 trillion a year. This is one of the fine examples in which Malaysia played the role of pioneer,” he said.
The deputy minister said an interesting development of the halal industry was that initially the industry involved only the Islamic communities, but now there were more halal product producers from non-Islamic countries as they could see the huge potential of the halal industry.
“The second phenomenon is that there are more non-Islamic countries buying halal products, and our study shows that although the Islamic communities in non-Islamic countries are small, they have the purchasing power.”
Mukhriz said that one of the factors that increased the buying of halal food products was the bird flu and swine flu epidemics which resulted in non-Muslim consumers shifting to halal food as they were deemed more hygienic.
“This development is a major contribution by Malaysia to the world market,” he added.
On Islamic banking pioneered by Malaysia, Mukhriz said it was now seen as an alternative to the conventional banking system which had its origins in the west, especially after the financial crisis at the end of 2008.
“At that time, the banking industry was seeking an alternative to the existing financial system as they were worried that the wealth of a company or country could be wiped out in the blink of an eye as had happened to Greece, when the existing system led by the west was not well managed,” he said.
The Islamic banking system based on noble values is now also being offered by banks from non-Islamic countries.
The latest figures on sukuk loans managed in Malaysia show more sukuk bonds being issued by non-Malaysian and non-Islamic banks while the borrowers are companies not under Muslim control, which goes to show that the Islamic financial system is now seen as a credible alternative to the old system.