By Leslie Andres – New Straits Times
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (left) handed over a momento to acting governor of Southwest China’s Yunnan, Ruan Chengfa after a meeting during his working visit to China today. Yunnan has agreed in principle to work with Malaysia on several issues related to increasing trade, including certification for halal products and connectivity.
KUNMING: Yunnan has agreed in principle to work with Malaysia on several issues related to increasing trade, including certification for halal products and connectivity.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today the matters were discussed in meetings with Yunnan governor Ruan Chengfa and Communist Party of China secretary for the province, Chen Hao.
He said trade between Yunnan province and Malaysia between January and November last year stood at over US$340 million, with Malaysian exports to Yunnan being mostly palm oil products and Yunnan’s exports to Malaysia being mostly agricultural proucts.
However, he said the province has huge potential for business with Malaysian companies.
“Malaysia has a bit of a problem when it comes to trade with Yunnan, specifically, and China as a whole, as the free trade agreement has yet to be finalised. But Malaysia has taken positive steps by allowing some Chinese products into the country.
“The International Trade and Industry Ministry will take some more proactive steps to increase trade with China.”
One area which Zahid said was a good one to target was halal products. “(We can export) specifically, halal ingredients, to Yunnan and the Xinjing Autonomous Region.
In Xinjiang, especially, there are a lot of halal products there so we can send raw materials for use in the production of halal cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, for instance.
“But they have a bit of a problem as they do not have halal certification,” he told Malaysian media, adding that Ruan and Chen had agreed to actively promote bilateral trade relations between halal industry players in Malaysia and Yunnan on an official basis as well as a business-to-business basis.
Zahid said working with Yunnan and Xinjiang would also help Malaysia get a bite of the US$1.1 trillion global halal market as the products could be marketed internationally.He said the halal certificate by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) would also be “internationalised” this way, though it is already recognised by several countries, including South Korea and Japan, the latter of which needs certification for food provided to athletes from Muslim countries as it is set to host the next Olympics.
Zahid said a Jakim laboratory would be set up in Yunnan, though it was still too early to say where it would be located.
On connectivity, he said Yunnan officials were keen to look into a possible high-speed rail line between Bangkok and Kunming. This would connect several Asea countries with the HSR line between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, the proposed line between KL and Bangkok, and now a possible Bangkok-Kunming line.
Zahid said such connectivity would make it possible for passengers to get on in Singapore and make it all the way to Beijing as there is currently a HSR link between Kunming and China’s capital.