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(FilePic) Chief Executive Officer of MATRADE, Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa. -NSTP/SUPIAN AHMAD

KOBE: Despite its technological advancement, Japan continues to be a huge draw for foreign tourists as it provides a journey of discovery of its pristine nature and cultural resources.

Even some cities are bursting with natural beauty, with the solitary Mount Fuji – the country’s most iconic landmark – is definitely a magnificent sight to behold.

The Land of the Rising Sun is set to welcome 40 million foreign visitors for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year.

A vast influx of Muslim travellers during the Olympics from July 24 to Aug 9, 2020 is set to fuel a boom in halal and syariah-compliant foods and products, potentially a big market for Malaysian halal product producers to tap into.

These needs were asserted by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking during a trade and investment mission to Kobe which began on Nov 29 and ended today.

In his keynote address at a Seminar on Business Opportunities in Malaysia, which was organised in conjunction with the mission, Darell said halal industry is one of the most important sectors for Malaysia to explore together with Japan.

“With the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020, Malaysia would like to collaborate with Japan in delivering a sustainable solution in halal matters through various angles such as logistics, data analytics, retail, certification, food distribution, and tourism for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and beyond,” he said.

He said one of the initiatives undertaken was the Export Acceleration Mission to Japan from Nov 4 to 8 by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and its trade promotion agency, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), which was joined by 21 Malaysian companies.

“The mission was one of the initiatives planned under the Digital Trade Halal Value Chain initiative launched by MITI on Aug 15 this year,” he said.

According to MATRADE chief executive officer Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa, the Digital Halal Trade Value Chain initiative was aimed at delivering a sustainable solution for Malaysian companies to export their products to Japan.

“The initiative is also in line with Malaysia’s aim to become a Global Halal Economy Enabler for the Tokyo Olympics 2020,” he said.

He said Japan itself has indicated its interest to source for halal products and services to cater to Muslim tourists and athletes at the Tokyo Olympics.

“There is a potential of more than 140 million meals required at the Olympics’ Athletes Village and approximately 720 million halal meals to be prepared during the event,” he said.

He said given Malaysia’s close relationship with Japan and the strong credibility of Malaysian halal products and services attributed to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) halal certification, Malaysia is in a strong position to be the main provider of halal products during the Tokyo Olympics.

Besides expounding on the halal industry, Darell also took the opportunity during the trade and investment mission to call on Japanese investors to leverage Malaysia’s push for digital transformation.

He said with various initiatives undertaken and incentives offered, Malaysia is an attractive destination for Japanese investors to expand their investment either by directly establishing a business entity in the country or through partnership with local companies.

The minister said Japanese investors could also use Malaysia as their gateway to the lucrative ASEAN market.

“With a projected annual growth rate of over 5.5 per cent, ASEAN remains as one the most dynamic regions in the world and is forecast to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050,” he said.

He said with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community, ASEAN is envisaged as a community that promoted equitable access to opportunities for human development and closer economic integration.

Furthermore, he said the ‘significant conclusion’ of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during the recent 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok would provide a major boost for a free and fair trade through growing opportunities for ASEAN and its trading partners.

The minister, hence, called for a closer collaboration between Malaysia and Japan in exploring opportunities ahead.

“Malaysia has much to offer when it comes to business and we always appreciate the presence of Japanese companies in Malaysia.

“Let us continue to work closely together to forge a stronger cooperation and work hand-in-hand to grow and prosper together,” he added.

In 2018, Japan is Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner, while Malaysia is Japan’s 14th largest trading partner with the bilateral trade between the two economies amounted to RM134.24 billion.

For the January-September period this year, the bilateral trade between Malaysia and Japan stood at RM95.59 billion. –BERNAMA

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