Thailand aims to become SE Asia’s leading halal hub by 2028

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Photo courtesy of Apichart Jinakul

The Thai government greenlit plans to transform Thailand into a leading halal hub in Southeast Asia by 2028, to elevate the nation’s GDP by 1.2%, or approximately 55 billion baht.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, speaking after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, disclosed the government’s intent to constitute a national halal industry committee and the Thai Halal Industry Centre. The aim is to bolster the global presence of Thai food products and goods, while simultaneously boosting tourism, reported Bangkok Post.

In his dialogue with the King of Brunei and Malaysia’s prime minister, the possibility of co-developing a halal food centre emerged. The establishment of the industry committee and the halal centre is expected to invigorate the national economy.

The global halal business market is valued at a whopping US$2.1 trillion, expanding at an average rate of 7.5% annually. Unfortunately, Thailand’s slice of this lucrative market has dipped to 2.7% from the 4.1% it held a decade ago.

In the initial 11 months of 2023, Thailand’s export value of halal food products reached 217 billion baht, marking a year-on-year increase of 2.6%. Most of these exports were naturally halal food items, encompassing rice, grains and sugar cane. Presently, Thailand is home to 15,043 halal food producers and over 3,500 halal food establishments, said PM Srettha.

“Thailand still has many opportunities based on our potential. The government is fully committed to establishing halal industry centres and expanding the halal product market, especially efforts to make Thailand a global halal kitchen.”

However, Thailand’s journey to develop its halal product sector is strewn with challenges, as per Rudklao Suwankiri, the deputy government spokesperson. These hurdles include fragmented promotion across multiple agencies and a lack of accountability among agencies and halal standard certification units, which create barriers for entrepreneurs.

The strategy to elevate Thailand as a hub for halal products by 2028 zeroes in five product categories: food, fashion, pharmaceuticals and herbal products, cocoa, and services and tourism. The five-year plan is projected to bolster GDP by 1.2%, or about 55 billion baht, while generating an estimated 100,000 jobs annually.

Rudklao further stated that the initiatives would be propelled by three key measures: fostering demand, supporting supply, and enhancing environmental standards, in addition to promoting investment in the halal industry.

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