Cambodia is seeking help from Malaysia for the halal food industry to diversify its exports and attract more tourists and investors from the Muslim world.
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Prime Minister Hun Sen made the request during a meeting with Dato Sri Jamil Khir, Minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religion.
During the meeting at the Peace Palace, Mr Hun Sen said Cambodia had made significant strides in developing its economy.
The government, he said, was promoting industrial development in line with its 2015-2025 industry policy to diversify its production base from mainly relying on the garment and textile industry and moving to other industrial sectors.
“We want to encourage halal training for Muslim people and to encourage Islamic investors to come to Cambodia to promote halal food production for export. We also want to encourage investment in other sectors to contribute to speeding up Cambodia’s development,” Mr Hun Sen said.
“Today’s growth, especially in the construction industry, is becoming bigger as we currently see so many high-rise buildings in the city,” he said.
These developments cannot be separated from overseas support and investment, especially from investment from Malaysia, added the premier.
Mr Jamil said the relationship between the countries and its people was becoming close, and there would be an increasing number of Malaysian business people and investors coming to Cambodia to contribute to the development of the country.
He agreed to bring the requests from Mr Hun Sen for help with the halal food industry.
Cambodia plans to finalise a draft sub-decree on halal food certification by the end of the year to push the industry.
Sos Mousine, a member of the halal products controlling committee of Cambodia, said recently that the regulations were being finalised and would be sent to Malaysia for checking before they were implemented.
The new rules are intended to make it easier for people to open halal restaurants that meet strict standards.
“Anyone, including Muslims, non-Muslims and foreigners, will be able to open a halal restaurant, as long as they follow the criteria for halal standards set by the committee,” he said.
“Now we have a direct flight from Dubai to Cambodia with Emirates, more tourists will come if they know they can find halal food,” he said.
Soeung Sophary, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, said recently that the draft sub-decree on the organisation and functioning of the committee to monitor Cambodian halal products had been in the pipeline for some time
“The Commerce Ministry is also boosting and supporting halal food production,” said the spokesperson.
“It benefits not only local Cambodian Muslims, but also all Muslim people, especially Muslim tourists.”
Two Malaysia-based Islamic financial institutions – Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia and Yapeim – are expected to open their first branches by the end of the year and 2018 respectively to assist the Muslim business community in Cambodia.