That is according to The GHC’s CEO Assad Sajjad, who was in China recently to attend the annual Qinghai Fair for Halal Products, held in Xining, capital of the north-westerly province of Qinghai.
While China has plenty of potential to export meat it has "zero" international halal certification according to Sajjad, whose Sharjah-based organisation provides auditing and certification services for meat companies globally seeking the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other recognisable halal certifications.
The link up with Beijing-based CITPC – a state organ designed to promote exports, with offices worldwide – means China could ultimately enter the top 10 of halal exporters alongside Canada, Malaysia and the US, believes Sajjad, who spoke to Chinese meat company executives in Xining. The country already has a huge domestic halal market: China is home to more than 20 million Muslims, but uses its own halal certification.
China’s halal exports are "about to take off", thanks China’s ambitious new trade policy of ‘One Belt Two Roads’ explained Qinghai government official Wang Xihui, chief organiser of the fair. He was referring to a clumsily named policy priority of Chinese president Xi Jinping to build a ‘belt’ of maritime and road infrastructure (including a revival of the Silk Road that once connected China and the West) to lock in Chinese access to regional markets. "Many of the countries on the Silk Road are Muslim… we must seize the opportunities," said Wang.
Among those exhibiting in Qinghai, the Ningxia Pang Ha Ha Halal Lamb Export & Import Co is a trader and processor located in the Yinchuan Bonded Trade Zone, which claims to be China’s distribution centre for halal meat distribution, as well as a hub for trade with the Arab world. Located in the province of Ningxia, with its large Muslim population, the zone offers logistics and translation services to traders shipping goods to and from China. While sales of halal products are growing at 10% per year in China, the country must also tap a global market which is US$3 trillion in scale, explained a company spokesperson surnamed Ma.
Neighbouring several Muslim states, China is also being eyed by meat firms in close ally, Pakistan, as a source of investment. An investment forum held late last year by the Pakistani embassy in Beijing featured the Punjab Agricultural and Meat Co, from Lahore, which is seeking partners in China to co-invest in its factories in Pakistan. Under the ‘One Belt Two Roads’ strategy, China has promised almost US$60bn in infrastructure spending to Pakistan, which will see the latter become a conduit for Chinese trade via roads out of western China to a port servicing the Gulf countries.