A high-powered government delegation is expected to visit two Muslim countries, Turkey and Indonesia, to gain institutional experience of expanding ‘Halal’ food export market, officials said. Additional secretary (export) of the commerce ministry Md Hafizur Rahman will lead the four-member delegation. The delegation is likely to visit Turkey from April 01 to 07 and Indonesia from April 08 to 14. Turkey and Indonesia have been ahead of other Muslim countries in terms of production, certification and exports of such foods. So, the delegation can gather knowledge about exports and certification process of Halal foods, said a senior official. Currently, there is no specific authority in the country to coordinate the export of Halal food items. So, it is very important to set up such an authority, the official said, adding that the delegation can also obtain necessary information to this end. The commerce ministry has already prepared a summary paper on the proposed visit for approval from the prime minister in this regard, he said. The government has already decided to establish an authority that will issue export health certificates for Halal food items, a source said. “We are working to know about the systems of different countries. There are separate authorities for Halal food export in different countries, including Turkey, India, Indonesia and Australia,” a high official who is dealing with the issue told the FE. A good number of importers or importing countries seek such certificates for food consignments exported from Bangladesh, he added. The new certification process will be introduced, aiming to meet the criteria set by the importers, he mentioned. Currently, several state entities, including Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution and Department of Agricultural Extension issue such certificates against export consignments of some processed foods, spice items, fruits and vegetables, he said. However, some importers cannot rely on or trust the certified copies issued by the authorities concerned, said another official. Despite having potentials, Bangladeshi Halal food, meat and beverage items are yet to enter the markets of many Muslim countries, including the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries, sector insiders said. The traders concerned have been frequently urging the government to provide required policy supports, including universal halal certificate, so that they can grab a portion of the markets, they added. Contacted, an Export Promotion Bureau official said a move has been taken to initiate a health certification system. “We are now working in this regard.” A number of local companies are now exporting safe and Halal meat to some Middle Eastern countries. Presently, Turkey and Indonesia have competent institutions to handle the issue. “We expect to gather experience from these institutions soon,” the high official mentioned. Now, it is not possible to export a number of items because of an absence of system of issuing export health certificates, he said, adding that the country’s export earnings would increase if it is introduced. The country can fetch US$10 billion a year by exporting Halal food items, according to the commerce ministry. In the last fiscal year, the country exported over 62,766 tonnes of vegetables. It 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 demand for Halal food is around 2.1 trillion annually. The global Halal food and beverage industry will grow to nearly US$10.51 trillion by 2024, as more countries are joining the bandwagon, according to the commerce ministry.