By Rahimy Rahim
KUALA LUMPUR: Think Chile and one cannot help but think of its “divine” wine.
But there’s more to the little South America nation which has now turned into a halal hub in that part of the world.
Chile’s ambassador-designate to Malaysia Christian Rehren said the number of halal-certified Chilean companies had grown steadily from 25 to 45 within the first quarter of the year.
“We think we can compete as our halal products are of high quality,” he said here.
He said Chile had exported many of its halal meat products to other Islamic nations including the Middle East and Muslim African countries.
“We have close ties with Muslim nations and received encouraging response from them for our products,” he added.
He said the halal certifications of Chilean companies were also acknowledged by the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia.
Total exports between Malaysia and Chile amounted to RM656mil last year, with total imports at RM726mil.
Malaysia and Chile signed a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) last year.
Under FTA, 96.5% of trade between the two countries is tariff-free.
Chile’s executive vice-president of the Foreign Investment Committee, Matias Mori, who attended the “Flavours of Chile” seminar here earlier this week, said when FTA was first negotiated, not many were familiar with the halal industry in Chile.
“Our government then started pushing to create awareness and gave incentives to local companies so they would not be left out.
“I hope with the expansion of FTA expected early next year, trade volume and investment would increase in both directions,” he said.
Mori said the committee would do its best to highlight Malaysian brands in Chile.