Forging cooperation in Halal sector

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM: A recent webinar on Halal trade and investment opportunities discussed areas in the Halal value chain, with great potential for joint ventures between Brunei Darussalam andthe Philippines.

The event presented the positive implications of cooperation between the two countries in this sector on the economic development of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Organised by the Philippines Embassy in Brunei Darussalam and the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, with the full support of the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE), the event featured presentations by four speakers from the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone (ZAMBOECOZONE), the Brunei Darussalam BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BDBEBC), Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), and the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines.

Ambassador of the Philippines to Brunei Darussalam Christopher B Montero stated that forging stronger cooperation in the Halal sector represents a significant pillar of trade, business and investment interaction between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam.

He said, “The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Halal Industry and Export Development and Promotion during the State Visit of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to the Philippines in April 2017, is a manifestation of the importance of Halal cooperation for both countries.”

“The robust connections on Halal that result from the implementation of the MoU do not only benefit the Philippines and Brunei, but also impacts profoundly on the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, an area with huge promise yet hampered by the challenges posed by connectivity.”

The webinar session in progressSpurring Syariah-compliant production and the provision of business services would result in more regional manufacturing and logistics hubs, similar to the special economic zones in the Philippines, which in turn would indirectly address the connectivity issues of the BIMP-EAGA in the medium- and long-term by serving as the basis for larger passenger and cargo volumes.

Highlighting the role of the Halal industry development in the promotion of peace in the BIMP-EAGA, Montero said, “From a strategic standpoint, our intensified engagement in the Halal sector would significantly impact on the economic development of our communities in southern Philippines, particularly the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“This is a critical component towards sustaining the gains of the peace process in Mindanao, for which the Government of His Majesty has been a vital partner of the Philippines through its long and active participation in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the International Decommissioning Body (IDB) Board.”

Permanent Secretary (Industry) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy Pengiran Hajah Zety Sufina binti Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Sani expressed that economic collaboration is crucial today, more than ever, in assisting the recovery of societies, businesses and communities from the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

She encouraged both Brunei and the Philippines “to take advantage of the vast opportunities available in the global Halal market, especially with the increasing demand for Halal products and services.”

Citing the Halal sector as being one of the global economic drivers, Pengiran Hajah Zety Sufina recognised the potential of bilateral cooperation to turn both countries into leaders of the global Halal industry and a joint Halal hub.

“It is in the interest of the Philippines and Brunei to look into the potential value chains which can be utilised for bringing positive progress, not only in each economy but also for the larger BIMP-EAGA,” she added.

Undersecretary Abdulgani M Macatoman from the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines reported that progress on the implementation of the MoU on Halal cooperation between the two countries is moving in the areas of mutual recognition of Halal standards, science and technology, Islamic banking and finance, and Syariah-compliant governance.

Four speakers from the Philippines and Brunei served as resource persons during the webinar.

The potential of ZAMBOECOZONE to become an important production hub for Halal products in BIMP-EAGA was discussed by its Chairman and Administrator Raul Regondola.
In addition to the existing infrastructure of its Asian Halal Centre, Regondola presented the incentives offered to international locators in ZAMBOECOZONE, such as tax holidays and tax ceilings.

Being the only Philippine Freeport in the Visayas and Mindanao, ZAMBOECOZONE has been targetting investments in poultry farms, meat processing, and Halal feeds manufacturing.

Deputy Chairman of BDBEBC Captain (Rtd) Zailan bin Pehin Datu Kerma Setia Major (Rtd) Dato Seri Laila Jasa Mohd Don made a presentation focussing on private sector initiatives in establishing production, distribution and trading hubs for Halal products and services in BIMP-EAGA.

He said that BDBEBC has identified supply, manufacturing and consumer bases in the BIMP-EAGA in its strategic platform which, when realised, would ensure the economic development of BIMP-EAGA and turn it into a main Halal hub that would have a significant role in the global Halal market.

Captain (Rtd) Zailan also disclosed that in working towards the realisation of their vision, BDBEBC has signed a strategic alliance agreement with Reefer Express Line of the Philippines to develop linkages among ports in BIMP-EAGA and improve logistics services in the region.

The value of Halal authentication technologies was the main discussion topic of Dr Nur Thaqifah Salihah binti Haji Mohd Salleh from UNISSA, who presented various ways of preserving the integrity of Halal products as they go through the five stages in the Halal value chain, from product development to distribution and sales.

Dr Nur Thaqifah Salihah presented the latest technologies available for evaluating the safety and quality of Halal products, such as the Mimica Touch and the Sentinel Wrap. She concluded that the best technologies for use in detection are those that are highly sensitive, specific and fast.

Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines Zamzam L Ampatuan expounded on the 10-Year Halal Food Production Programme by presenting the priorities of each phase of the programme focussing on poultry, livestock and aquaculture, as well as future initiatives to supply the demand of the ASEAN market.

The webinar concluded with testimonials from the Philippines exporters of Halal goods who participated in the Brunei Halal Showcase in 2018.

The Bruneian owner of Bay 91 Café in Manila Ardy bin Haji Abdul Momin also shared his experiences in operating a Halal restaurant in the Philippines.

© Borneo Bulletin