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JOHANNESBURG - The exports of halaal products for local and international buyers will come under the spotlight at the first-ever small scale conference in Cape Town this month as the Western Cape province aims to punch above its weight in the industry.

Wesgro -- Cape Town and the Western Cape's official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency -- said on Tuesday, that it has developed an ambitious strategy to enable the Western Cape Province to become one of the leading global exporters in the trillion dollar halaal products and services market. 

Wesgo's initiatives include doubling the region's exports by 2025 which will bring an estimated U.S.$58 million to the economy.

According to the latest figures, the Western Cape experienced an annual average export growth of 17.84% worth U.S.$9 billion over the last five years.  

Halal exports, which include meat, dairy, fresh fruit, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, currently contribute less than one percent of that total.

Wesgro chief executive, Tim Harris, said that the international halaal industry is an important trade opportunity for Western Cape companies. 

"To this end, Wesgro has intensified its trade efforts within this sector and is achieving remarkable results. From the export promotion inception programme in 2016, the total trade value secured from the international market has been estimated at R320 million," Harris said.

In July, Wesgro's research department published its first halaal market research paper, which provides insights into the halal industry, ranging from 'background and definitions', to 'starting a halal food and beverage business and getting certified'.

The 'Halaal Products and Services Inward Buying Mission', to be held at the end of this month, aims to showcase the region's offering and infrastructure to delegates, facilitate new business streams and build long-term partnerships.

A longer-term plan by Cape Town and the Western Cape to host the biggest Halaal expo in Africa in October 2018.

- AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY