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28/02/2018 - 13:29hs

Opportunity up for grabs in halal market for Latin America

On the second day of the Latin America Global Business Forum in Dubai, panelists from the UAE discussed their impressions regarding the region’s potential when it comes to goods targeting Muslim consumers.

Dubai – The halal goods market could be a good Middle East target for Latin America to export to, International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF) secretary general Mohamed Badri said this Wednesday (28). He was a panelist at the Latin America Global Business Forum (GBF) held by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Dubai’s Atlantis The Palm Hotel.

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The 2018 edition of GBF wrapped up on Wednesday (28)

Badri’s IHAF works to standardize halal certificates, cut down paperwork requirements and the documentation cost involved in attesting that goods comply with Muslim rules. According to him, consumption of halal goods will exceed USD 6 trillion in the next few years – and this standardization could cut costs for manufacturers as well as end buyers.

“Halal does not pertain to foods alone. You also have pharmaceuticals, make-up, clothing items. Latin America produces all of those, and it could rely on Dubai as a hub from which to distribute to other Muslim countries in Africa and Asia,” he said, reasoning that the emirate should be chosen due to its infrastructure.

Dubai Chamber president Hamad Buamim said Dubai should indeed act as a distribution channel for Latin American countries, but not only in halal goods. This could improve Latin America’s business in Asia and Africa.

“The United Arab Emirates are open to doing business, they have free zones available. It’s easy and convenient,” added Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC), which regulates trade in commodities in the emirate. According to him, the DMCC and Latin America should work in tandem to increase trade, since climate and other conditions do not allow for several goods to be made in the Arab country at competitive costs.

Sulayem said Dubai is looking to become a big Middle East player in coffee, and it’s counting on Latin America for help. He said the emirate’s planning on establishing a National Coffee Center tasked with adding value to goods imported from Latin American countries.

A similar strategy was put in place by One Foods, the halal arm created by BRF last year. Its CEO Patricio Rohner said the new division came about so the company can be nearer its buyers, and that the decision to establish it in Dubai a strategic one.

The idea with One Foods is to import poultry from its manufacturing operations in Brazil and process it into hamburgers, nuggets and other products in its Middle East units. “The halal market is a growing market,” he pondered.


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Acher (L), one of the Brazilian panelists on the second day of GBF

Brazil’s Eric Acher, cofounder and managing partner at Monashees, a venture capital fund specializing in startups, said in his panel at the GBP that the industry is growing bigger in Brazil. According to him, venture capital funds went from USD 90 million in assets in 2010 to USD 1.1 billion in 2016. “We expect that amount to double now,” he said.

Acher discussed ridesharing app 99 as a successful startup in Brazil. Born 99 Taxi four years ago, the company is considered as Brazil first “unicorn” – a startup worth over USD 1 billion, which is how much China’s Didi Chuxing paid in buying out 99 in January this year.

According to Acher, there are many other Brazilian startups that show great promise. “Problems are opportunities in the eyes of entrepreneurs,” he said.

The Forum wrapped up this Wednesday after two days of panels and discussions. The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce’s international Business executive Rafael Solimeo was in attendance.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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