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Brazil agency and Arab chamber forge alliance to grow 'halal' food trade

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Brazil's trade and investment agency Apex has signed an agreement with the Arab-Brazil Chamber of Commerce aimed at boosting exports of food products to Muslim countries, according to a statement on Thursday.

The plan is to promote the sale of higher value foodstuffs, building on the strong ties Brazil and Islamic nations have built over the years to trade in unprocessed agricultural products.

Brazil is the world's second largest food and beverages supplier to the Muslim world, trailing India, but mainly sells raw commodities including sugar, soy, chicken and corn, the statement said.

The agreement foresees a joint investment of about 15 million reais ($2.84 million) over 30 months to diversify exports. The initiative includes subsidies for Brazilian food companies interested in applying for so-called halal certification of their products.

Obtaining halal certification means a product will be suitable for consumption in Muslim societies, where food is permissible only if prepared according to certain dietary requirements.

Tamer Mansour, the chamber's secretary general, said in the statement the goal is to enable 500 potential Brazilian food and beverages exporters to participate in the global halal food trade.

The halal market comprises 1.9 billion consumers and is worth $1.267 trillion per year, according to the statement, which cited the 2022 State of the Global Islamic Economy report.

In addition to broadening trade with the 22 countries of the Arab League, the agreement will seek to boost Brazilian exports to Malaysia and Indonesia. It will also aim for more halal certified food sales to Muslim-minority nations like France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

In 2021, Brazil exported $16.5 billion of food and beverages to the 57 countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the statement said. That represented 7.2% of total imports by the bloc.

($1 = 5.2750 reais) (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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