The government is set to establish an authority for issuing health certificates for export of halal food items to meet the demand of importers of such Bangladeshi products, sources said.
To this effect, the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) will prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) including organisational structure, nature and circumference in this regard, they added.
Country's economic loss and profit in absence of such authority will be analysed by a committee headed by Sha Md. Abu Raihan Alberuni, member (TPD) of Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC).
Two high officials from the commerce ministry and BTCC will be included in the committee as members and one member from the EPB.
The issue has been discussed at a special preparatory meeting for holding the national committee's next meeting on export with commerce secretary Md Jafar Uddin in the chair.
The committee will sit in a meeting soon to devise necessary strategies with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The commerce ministry will send a summary paper to the prime minister, seeking convenient time for holding the meeting.
"We are working to know the system of different countries about the matter. There are such authorities in Australia and India," a high official who is dealing with the issue told the FE.
A good number of importers or importer countries seek such certificates with different food consignments which are exported from Bangladesh, he added.
The new certification process will be introduced aiming to meet the demand of the importers who import such products from Bangladesh, he also mentioned.
Currently, several state entities including Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution and Department of Agricultural Extension issue such quality certificates against export consignments of some processed foods, spice items, fruits, vegetables, and other items, he also said.
Another official concerned said some importers of Bangladeshi products cannot rely or trust on the certificated copies issued by the authorities concerned.
Despite having potential, Bangladesh is yet to enter the markets of different Muslim countries including United Arab Emirates and other gulf countries with its halal food, meat and beverage items, sector insiders said.
The traders/entrepreneurs concerned have been frequently urging the government to provide required policy supports, including providing with universal halal certificate for grabbing a portion of the markets, they added.
When contacted, EPB vice-chairman A.H.M. Ahasan said a move has been taken to launch health certification system. "We are now working in this regard."
A good number of local companies are engaged with exporting safe, and halal meat to some gulf states and Middle Eastern countries.
Halal food is considered the most diverse sector of the Islamic countries.
Presently, India has an institution named Export Inspection Council to handle the issue. "We will gather experience from the council," the high official mentioned.
When asked, Sha Md. Abu Raihan Alberuni said, "The first meeting will be held for reviewing necessary information to introduce health certification process."
It is not possible to export a good number of items to lack of desired health certificates by the importers, he added.
He hoped that country's export earnings will increase if it is introduced.
The country exported over 62,766 tonnes of vegetable items in the last fiscal year.
It imported over 0.92 million tonnes of spices and 51,659 tonnes of vegetables during the same period, according to the agriculture ministry.
The global halal F&B industry will grow to nearly US$1.9 trillion by 2021, and more countries are joining the bandwagon, according to sources.
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