Southeast Europe can be a good market platform for companies from Southeast Asian with the creation of a productive environment through joint efforts – it was concluded during the panel discussion “Southeast Asia – Halal Prospects and Opportunities for Southeast Europe” held on the first day of the Sarajevo Halal Fair (SHF) 2019.

The panelists spoke about the opportunities for a breakthrough of halal manufacturers and halal service providers from our region in the world’s largest halal market.

The Director General of Islamic Tourism Center at the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia YBhg Dato Sri Abdul Khani Daud, conveyed the experience of his in the halal tourism area.

“It is an imperative to point out the importance of halal certification for a hotel. There are hotels in B&H that are halal but not certified,” said Daud.

Vedad Halilović, director of AS Group exports, pointed out that the company has organized imports of some raw materials from Southeast Asian countries, but does not have secured exports to that part of the world.

“It’s not the market’s fault, we have to be much more active. We have many quality products that can be well received in that market. It is very important that the Halal quality certificate is compatible with certificates such as IFC, ISO, etc. which we must have if we want to export to the world’s largest chains,” said Halilović.

The Vice President of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Halim Kalla emphasized that it is important for buyers and clients to eliminate the doubts about whether halal is something and that halal implies health in every sense, which also includes the production of clean energy from renewable sources.

Halal is also present in education, and education about halal is especially important, said YBhg Dutuk Prof. Emeritus Mohd Azrai Kasim, Vice-Chancellor of MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Malaysia.

“Halal is mistaken for the meat industry only. Companies in other areas of the food industry can grow with global demand for halal products,” said Eldina Muftić, Vice President of ZERAA Agriculture & Management B&H.

Emphasizing that halal is not just a business, YBhg Dato Lokman Hakim Pfordten, CEO of GISB Holdings in Malaysia, emphasized that halal also implies humanity, connecting people and diversity:

“We recognized this in B&H before deciding to invest,” said Pfordten, whose company opened a restaurant and hotel in Sarajevo after joining SHF this year in Sarajevo.

The roundtable of B&H and Malaysian companies, which was also held as part of the first day of SHF 2019, highlighted that the most promising models must be found in order to enhance economic cooperation.

In his introductory address YB Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs of Malaysia noted that a large business and political delegation from Malaysia was present at this year’s SHF.

“I held meetings with B&H Council of Ministers Chairman Mr. Denis Zvizdić and BiH Presidency Member Šefik Džaferović, at which we concluded that the potential sectors for improving our two countries’ cooperation are halal food, tourism, pharmaceuticals and energy,” YB Datuk Seri Saifuddin said.

Apart from the food industry, tourism is a promising sector for cooperation, but there is a need to work on promoting the potential of these two countries and connectivity, as there is no direct airline between B&H and Malaysia.

Particularly emphasized is the possibility of joint appearance with third countries, given the fact that Sarajevo is a gateway to enter the EU market.

On the first day of SHF 2019 there was also a promotion of the book “Halal – the standard for human tailoring” by Dr. Aldin Dugonjić, Head of the Croatian Halal Quality Certification Center.

A presentation of International Shariah Islamic Research Academy (ISRA) from Malaysia was also held.

Officials, guests and visitors of the Fair were able to enjoy the presentation of Chinese, Malaysian and Bosnian cuisine yesterday.

SHF 2019 is held at the Skenderija Center in Sarajevo from September 26 to 28, 2019, and the organizers of the Fair are Bosna Bank International, Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) and IsDB Group Business Forum THIQAH, with the support of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Halal Quality Certification Agency of the B&H, and the Halal Industry Association operating within the FBiH Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This year’s Event is held under the patronage of Šefik Džaferović, Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Meetings of regional halal product manufacturers and halal service providers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Macedonia and Albania with major buyers and distributors from Turkey, Malaysia, Austria, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bahrain, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, China, USA, Norway and other countries, will be enabled during the three days of SHF 2019.