Malaysia plans to expand its halal food industry to Turkmenistan following the huge potential in the Central Asian nation.
Malaysia’s ambassador to Turkmenistan, Norman Muhamad said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will bring up the matter during his meeting with the country’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
Najib makes a second two-day official visit to Turkmenistan from Monday.
He will be accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar.
“There are many opportunities to explore prospects in the halal industry in Turkmenistan. This is among the areas that Malaysia seeks to diversify in enhancing relations between both countries,” he told the Malaysian media here Sunday.
He said through this initiative, Malaysia hopes to make Turkmenistan its halal hub partner in Central Asia.
About 93 per cent of Turkmenistan’s six million population are Muslims.
Norman said Malaysia also wants to enhance gas exploration in Turkmenistan by opening up opportunities for other local companies.
“The government is encouraging more Malaysian to venture into oil and gas exploration in Turkmenistan. To date, one company, has already expressed its interest in participating in the sector in the country,” he added.
At present, the oil and gas exploration industry in Turkmenistan, has had only the participation of Petronas, operating in the Caspian Sea from 1996.
Norman said Petronas had entered into a production sharing contract with Turkmenistan, whereby, the Malaysian company undertakes exploration activities, before selling any oil and gas through Turkmen Gas.
Turkmenistan is ranked fourth among countries with proven gas reserves after Iran, Russia and Qatar, with an area of 17.5 trillion cubic metres.
He said Malaysian companies are also being encouraged to participate in the construction sector in Turkmenistan as the country is actively undertaking various development projects.
Norman said in the Central Asian region, Turkmenistan was Malaysia’s third largest trading partner.
Total trade between the two countries in 2013 was recorded at US$33.13 million compared to US$11.68 million in 2012 and US$24.27 million in 2011.