Japanese firm goes halal before TPP pact opens Islamic markets

Japanese global logistics company Nippon Express Co. is targeting Islamic markets by improving its halal credentials ahead of the implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact.

With an expected boost from the TPP in its sights, the company is working to provide Islam-friendly services in Southeast Asia as well as in Japan.

This year, Nippon Express gained the Japan Halal Association certification for its warehousing and distribution service in Japan. Its Malaysian subsidiary obtained a halal certificate in 2014 from the Department of Islamic Development, a certifying body within the Malaysian government.

In Islam, it is considered unfavorable to carry food or cosmetics that are “halal,” meaning permissible according to Islamic law, alongside “haram” forbidden items such as pork or alcoholic products.

To receive a halal certificate, the Malaysian subsidiary has set out extensive measures to keep its transportation network “clean.”

At the distribution center in Malaysia, trucks that have carried haram items are purified before halal items can be loaded. In their cleansing ritual, a prayer is offered for a truck before cleaners wash the cargo compartment with special water for purification. To finish off, the space is rinsed six times with water.

The move to acquire these certifications was for the expected increase of trade between the two countries when the TPP comes into effect.

“We are expecting that the TPP will boost exports (of Japanese products) such as ‘wagyu’ beef, which is very popular in Asia,” said the Nippon Express employee in charge of the project.

The company is also expecting a rise in export of beef from Australia to Malaysia, and is preparing to acquire a similar certificate for its logistics service in Australia.

*This article was originally published on The Asahi Shimbun on 25 April 2016. Read the original article here.

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