Published 30 Dec,2020 via The Financial Express - The government has initiated to assess the extent of losses by agri-processed food, especially halal food, exporters for unavailability of a heath certification system in Bangladesh.
Officials said Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) has written to 12 agri-processing food makers, including the allied associations, to provide the past three fiscal years' information.
"We've sought information from exporters and agencies concerned, including the Bangladesh Agro-Processors' Association, on export volume and financial losses of such food items," a BTTC high official told the FE.
Currently, the government is working to establish an authority for issuing health certificates for exporting Bangladeshi halal food to meet the demand of importers, a commerce ministry official said.
The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) is preparing a standard operating procedure, including organisational structure, nature, and circumference to this end, he added.
The government earlier prepared a committee, headed by BTTC member (TPD) Sha Md Abu Raihan Alberuni, to analyse the economic loss and profit in the absence of such authority.
Two officials from commerce ministry and BTCC, and one from the EPB have been included on the committee as members.
The issue has been discussed at a meeting preparatory to the national committee's next meeting on export with commerce secretary Md Jafar Uddin in the chair.
"We're sincerely working to know the system of different countries about the matter. Australia and India have such authorities," a high official dealing with the issue told the FE.
A good number of importers or importing countries seek such certificates with different food consignments from Bangladesh, he added.
The new certification process will be introduced with an eye to meeting the demand of the importers, the official mentioned.
Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution, and Department of Agricultural Extension issue such quality certificates against export consignments of some processed foods, spices, fruits, and vegetables.
Another official said some importers of Bangladeshi products cannot rely on the certificated copies issued by the authorities concerned.
Despite having potential, sector insiders said, Bangladesh is yet to enter different Muslim countries like the United Arab Emirates and other gulf states with halal food, meat, and beverage items.
The traders concerned have been frequently urging the government to provide required policy support, including a universal halal certificate, to grab a portion of the markets, they added.
Earlier, EPB vice-chairman AHM Ahasan said a move has been made to launch the health certification system. "We are now working on this."
A good number of local companies are involved in exporting safe and halal meat to some Gulf states and Middle-Eastern countries.
Halal food is considered the most diverse sector of the Islamic countries.
Presently, India has an institution, Export Inspection Council, to handle the issue. "We'll gather experience from the council," Mr Ahasan mentioned.
It is not possible to export a good number of items for not issuing health certificates as desired by importers, he added.
Mr Ahasan expressed the hope that the country's export earnings would increase once the system is introduced.
Bangladesh has exported more than 62,766 tonnes of vegetable items in the last fiscal year.
It has imported over 0.92-million tonnes of spices and 51,659 tonnes of vegetables during the same period, according to the agriculture ministry.
The global halal food and beverage industry will grow to nearly $1.9 trillion by 2021, and more countries are joining the bandwagon, according to sources.
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