World Halal Food Council sees Italy as potential hub
World Halal Food Council sees Italy as potential hub - Islamic investments could be boost of Italian economy
Bari, March 31 - The marketing of certified products that follow Halal food standards, prepared according to Islamic tradition, could become a significant factor in the Italian economy and make the country a halal "hub" a conference heard Monday.
"Islamic finance and capital are ready to pull Europe - and Italy, in particular - out of crisis," according to participants at the World Halal Food Council (WHFC) in Rome. Halal products are a global market worth 13 trillion euros per year, growing 15% annually and reaching two billion Muslims, event organizers said. The stipulation for Italy is that food standards must follow Halal, or "conformance" standards in production, logistics and commercialization that are all consistent with the precepts of Sharia, the laws that establish what is licit or prohibited for a Muslim. The event, organized by the Italian section of the Halal International Authority (HIA), the only organism recognized for the quality certification for products according to Islamic standards, gathered together representatives of the 57 Islamic states of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for the first time in Italy. "We are willing to invest in Italy, which we want to see become the hub of the Halal market in the Mediterranean," explained the Saudi sheik Fahah Alared, a member of the Committee for Islamization of Banks. An important step was made during the Roman WHFC meeting. "We have signed an protocol agreement with the government agency of Malaysia for the development of the Halal market (and) for the birth of the 'Italy Halal Hub'," he added. In this way, "Malaysia, the largest Halal market in the world, will make its experience available to Italy, which will become the leading Halal hub in Europe, serving countries of the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, the Balkans and obviously European countries," the sheik added. Development would be based on "Islamic financing, which does not allow the application of interest, as it would be a capital sin (and would see) investment through equity partnerships and the acquisition of company shares" with direct action "also in failing companies". Interested sectors range from food to clothing to tourism to medicines, cosmetics and body treatments. Among the 270 Italian companies that are already Halal-certified, many have seen production "grow to point of not being able to keep up with orders coming from southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia," according to Alared. These companies would meet with sheiks "willing to open new branches and hire personnel," he added. "We are ready to invest also in infrastructure, but Italy must guarantee us official recognition of the Halal market, making certification mandatory among companies that are interested".