The Ministry of Economy prepared a draft bill stipulating the establishment of an Institute for Halal Accreditation (HAK), which will be independent of the Turkish Accreditation Agency (TÜRKAK). The institute aims to meet the halal product demand of the 1.8 billion Muslims across the globe and to grant "halal" certification to the products that are compliant with halal conditions. Furthermore, the institute will also represent Turkey among the international organizations that operate in the field of halal accreditation and certification.
The interest and demand of a global Muslim population of 1.8 billion for halal products and their certification is incrementally increasing. Relatively, the scope of halal, which was initially associated with food, is now expanding to textile, cosmetics, logistics and services sectors, the statement of the Economy Ministry explained. As a concept, halal does not only pertain to food since halal means "permissible" and can refer to any aspect of life covered by the teachings of Islam.
The rationale of the ministry's draft bill draws attention to the $2.3 billion of global trade potential in sectors subject to halal certification, while underscoring that halal requires products to be healthy, hygienic and high quality at every stage, from production to distribution, signifying the increasing awareness of the halal market. The statement, in this regard, highlights the necessity to establish an independent institute for halal accreditation.
No common language constituted
The ministry's statement highlights the failed attempts to form a common language for halal certification among Muslim-populated countries. "The global surge in the trade of halal products has led to the clarification of the hurdles in global trade, created by the different halal standards and certification systems," the statement noted, adding that the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC), which was founded with 36 members under the Organization for Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, is the most fundamental initiative of Turkey in regard to constituting a common systemic body for halal certification. The SMIIC works with the establishment of common halal standards and a reliable certification system based on intergovernmental accreditation. Despite the progress made in forming a common halal accreditation and certification system through the institute, the ministry's statement emphasized that the system is not operational yet.
While elaborating on the necessity of founding an institute for halal accreditation that is independent from the TÜRKAK, the ministry emphatically states that the TÜRKAK cannot run halal accreditation operations due to concerns that problems may arise in relation to the European Cooperation for Accreditation (EA).
"Since the halal accreditation of the TÜRKAK is not based on the common standards set forth by the European Union, it exceeds the scope of the TÜRKAK. Moreover, the requirements that the halal certification bodies included in the SMIIC standards be Islam based creates a concern since the EA might consider this requirement discriminatory," the ministry's statement said, elaborating on the possible problems that may arise from the lack of a more global accreditation agency.
The statement also indicated that the possible problems that the TÜRKAK may have in accreditation dealings with the EA may pose significant negative risks to Turkey's exports to European countries or others. In that regard, the rationale of the draft bill expressed that the more Turkey lags regarding the foundation of alternative organizations, the less effective it becomes in the matters of halal certification and accreditation.
The ministry, therefore, underscored the necessity to establish a halal accreditation institute that will be independent from the TÜRKAK and will represent Turkey in the matters of halal accreditation at the SMIIC and other international platforms, as well as assuming the leading role in accreditation work.
TOBB and TİM to have a chair in the board
According to the draft bill the decision-making body of the institute will be a board of 11 directors from public and private sectors with 3-year terms in office. The draft stipulates that the board members shall be appointed from the Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Development, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Health, the Presidency of Religious Affairs, the Council of Higher Education, the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) and the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB).