Belt and Road boosts prospects for China’s halal food exports

Muslim food businesses in northwest China’s Gansu province are benefiting from efforts to develop the Belt and Road regional trade network.

One firm in Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture has signed agreements with Turkey and Kazakhstan to export thousands of boxes of halal instant noodles to the two countries each month.

Gao Shangyun, the company’s general manager, said it had only been selling products to Muslim communities in China since establishment three years ago. Exports to Turkey and Kazakhstan will be the first step for the company to edge into the world market, Gao hopes.

Linxia, with a population of about 2 million, has dubbed “China’s Mecca” as more than half of residents are Muslim. It was formerly an important trade town along the ancient Silk Road. Halal products made in Linxia have won rave reviews, said Deng Wanrong, deputy director of the prefecture’s ethnic affairs commission.

Another Linxia Muslim company producing canned fava beans has also been exporting its products to Yemen since last year while eyeing the Belarus market. The company and nine other Muslim enterprises in Linxia participated in an international halal food fair in Horgos in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in January, attracting many orders from abroad.

The fair served as a platform for local companies to trade with countries connected by the Belt and Road. After the event, Linxia set up an office in Horgos to coordinate the prefecture’s trade with Central and West Asian countries.

To reassure foreign buyers, Linxia has also established a center to test and certificate genuine halal food.

In August 2014, the center signed an agreement with Iran so that they can provide mutual recognition to the halal food produced by the two sides, said Ma Lingzu, director of the center.

The prefecture will also supply certificated halal food to the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, Ma added.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013, is a trade and infrastructure network that includes overland and maritime routes. It brings together countries in Asia, Europe and even Africa, with the purpose of boosting infrastructure building, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges in those regions.

*This article was originally published on Want China Times on 2 August 2015. Read the original article here.

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