News From : DagangHalal.com (10 Jul 2009)
KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 (Bernama) — Malaysia, recognised internationally for its vast experience in Islamic finance, is well positioned to provide services and facilities related to Islamic banking in Europe.
“This is a potential area that we have yet to develop with Europe. We need to move away from the thinking that Islamic banking must only be in the Middle East or among Arab, muslim countries,” said Malaysia’s ambassador to Brussels, Datuk Hussein Hanif.
“It goes beyond that.Following the recent financial crisis, developed countries are acknowledging Islamic banking,” Hussein told Bernama in an interview recently.
Hussein said Bank Negara can play a role by having an exchange of visits and discussions with its counterparts in Europe on Islamic banking.
Malaysian banks, like Maybank and CIMB, already have representatives in London, he said, adding that these banks can collaborate with those in Europe to expand services in Islamic banking.
“The clientele for Islamic banking is not confined to just Muslim countries but spread all over Europe, the United States and the Far East,” he highlighted.
He said Islamic banking continues to grow at a rapid pace because it is value-oriented and this enables it to draw funds from both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Today, more than 250 Islamic financial institutions are operating worldwide.
There are more than 14.74 million Muslims in Europe, of which 1.8 million are resident in the United Kingdom (UK), plus an additional 72 million in Turkey.
The UK is the first country in Europe to promote and encourage retail Islamic banking.
It is also in the process of embracing Islamic financial techniques by introducing new laws to facilitate further market entry.
Apart from Islamic finance, Hussein said the demand for halal food is increasing in Europe and it can be an important area for Malaysia to tap into.
He explained that Malaysia is well positioned to be the centre for the promotion, distribution and production of halal food, non-food products and other services.
“Europeans prefers our products because of the better quality,” he said.
“If you look at halal food, it is in compliance with the health and safety requirements of any other western country,” he said.
He said there is potential, alongside a misconception that halal food is only for muslims.
Halal food is also marketable to non-muslims, he added.
According to Hussein, the halal standard does not cover just food but has also rules regarding the transporting, packaging, labelling and logistics.
The total trade between Malaysia and the European Union (EU) amounted to US$41 billion last year.Exports to the EU totalled US$22.5 billion while imports from the grouping was US$18.5 billion.
By Premalatha Jayaraman