Malaysia eyes 2020 Olympic Games to boost halal exports to Japan

Malaysia hopes to ride on next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo to boost its food exports to Japan. (Shutterstock photo)
Updated 26 January 2019

Malaysia eyes 2020 Olympic Games to boost halal exports to Japan

  • A three-day exhibition was launched in Kuala Lumpur last week to secure contracts to supply halal products for the games next year
  • Though a Muslim-majority nation, Malaysia lags behind Buddhist-majority Thailand as Southeast Asia’s largest halal exporter

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is targeting the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as an opportunity to increase its exports of halal food to the global market.

On Thursday, a three-day exhibition titled “Malaysia to Japan for 2020 Olympics” was launched in Kuala Lumpur to secure contracts worth up to $300 million supplying halal products for the games next year.

Keith Wong, a member of the Tokyo Olympics Halal Food Standards Committee, told Arab News: “Malaysia sees the Olympic Games as the stepping stone to the global market. Japan is not just one of the largest markets in the world, but also represents quality. Many companies want to be associated with that.”

More than 300 local businesses will display halal-certified food products and services, from adapted Japanese dishes to cosmetics and health products. Islamic financial service providers and transportation firms specializing in maintaining halal standards through supply chains also attended the event.

International demand for halal produce has grown exponentially in recent years, due not only to increasing demand from expanding Muslim populations, but also non-Muslim consumers of high-quality products, reassured by the standards halal goods must meet.

Wong said that, though the Muslim population in Japan is small, the Tokyo Olympics could see 5 million Muslim tourists visit the country. 

However, for any effort to expand in Japan to succeed, it was important for halal producers to see the Olympics not as a one-off opportunity, but a chance to break new ground for the long-term.

“If you want to go in, you have to meet Japanese standards,” he said. “The Japanese love curry from Nepal and Bangladesh, and never think of it as ‘halal curry.’ Why can’t Malaysian food be the same?”

Though a Muslim-majority nation, Malaysia lags behind Buddhist-majority Thailand as Southeast Asia’s largest halal exporter. This, Wong believes, is because of Bangkok’s more successful export strategy, that Malaysia has yet to emulate.

“Thailand trains its chefs well, and sends them all over the world. As a result, Thai food is very popular. Malaysia’s export strategy is too vague and not yet detailed enough,” he said.

The Malaysian government, though, hope the exhibition, also attended by large Japanese firms such as Take-One Co. Ltd., which operates FamilyMart, Ohga Pharmacy and Hayabusa International, could generate $12 million in sales over the three-day session.

 


Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

Updated 22 October 2019

Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

  • Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos
  • Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015

ATHENS: Authorities in Greece moved more asylum-seekers to the mainland on Tuesday as part of a strategy to reduce the refugee population on outlying islands after an increase in arrivals in recent months.

Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos, officials said. Earlier, 120 people arrived from Lesbos.

Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015, when more than a million crossed into Europe, many of them via Greece.

The islands, which are closest to Turkey, have been struggling under the influx, with some 33,700 refugees and migrants in overcrowded camps, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In late September, a woman died in a fire in a tent in a camp on Lesbos, while another fire in a severely overcrowded camp in Samos forced hundreds of people into the streets this month.

“Our focus was mainly on Samos because we want things there to calm down,” migration ministry secretary Manos Logothetis told Reuters.

More than 12,000 people arrived in Greece in September, the highest level in the three-and-a-half years since the EU agreed a deal with Turkey to seal the Aegean corridor to Europe.

Logothetis said up to 300 more people would be leaving Samos this week, and up to 2,000 from all outlying islands next week. Greece aims to move up to 20,000 off the islands by the end of the year, he said.

Athens has announced a stricter migration policy to deal with the crisis, including plans to deport 10,000 people who do not qualify for asylum by the end of next year.