DESPITE spearheading the halal industry, Malaysia's halal exports as a percentage of the global share is still small, says Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Wong Lai Sum.
"But it is encouraging that the profile has changed over the past 10 years with the focus shifted from purely food products (farm to table) to include cosmetics and bodycare products," she said at a media briefing to mark the soft launch of Malaysia Halal Week in April.
The annual Malaysia Halal Week, with the theme "A Decade of Excellence", will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from April 3 to April 6.
Thousands of participants are expected to converge at the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) and the World Halal Week Conference.
Wong said the event is hoped to sustain last year's total sales of more than RM500 million and 10,000 visitors.
To boost the level of halal exports, she said Malaysians should look to MIHAS for opportunities, linkages and collaboration with other players in the global halal market, which is estimated to be more than US$2.3 trillion (RM7.13 trillion).
The non-food sector is much bigger and includes chemicals, healthcare, cosmetics, personal care and pharmaceuticals.
Another promising and fast gaining acceptance in the halal industry is the syariah-compliant services, which include banking and finance, logistics, warehousing and distribution.
Wong said government-private sector collaboration aims to strengthen international trade links and create innovations within the industry to further expand the halal industry and reach the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide.
The uptake of non-Muslim interest in halal products and services should also be strongly considered, she added.
The World Halal Week starts with the WHW Conference that is organised by the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) in collaboration with IHI Alliance.
Participants can exchange ideas on new research findings, emerging technologies, trends, issues and challenges.
From a small trade and consumer fair, MIHAS has grown to become an exclusive World Halal trade event, and, being the premier marketplace for products and services, has paved the way in halal trade development.
It also completes the halal eco-system by being an excellent platform for halal manufacturers, suppliers and distributors from all over the world to gather, meet, network and trade with halal industry stakeholders.
Since it was held in 2004, the event has been held in three different venues, namely MIECC, KL Convention Centre and MATRADE, all in Kuala Lumpur.