Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.

Her Excellency Megawati Manan of the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam, His Excellency Agus Widjojo of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, His Excellency Dato Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino Anthony of the Embassy of Malaysia, His Excellency Hisham Sultan Al Zafir Al Qahtani of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, First Secretary Mr. Obaid Abbood Alshehhi of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates; Secretary Guiling Mamondiong of the National Commission on Muslim Filipino; Congressman Khalid Q. Dimaporo, Chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs; Senator Robin Padilla, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities and Muslim Affairs; distinguished guests from the private sector and the academe; my colleagues in the government; halal stakeholders; ladies and gentlemen—good afternoon.

Earlier at today’s conference, we addressed halal food concerns. Specifically, we had a session on Muslim-friendly services in the tourism sector.

Overall, today’s training program seeks to address the needs of the USD 2.3-trillion market of the global halal industry. This market is seen to grow by almost 50% (47.8%) to USD 3.4 trillion next year. Acquiring even a tiny bit of this cake—say 0.1%, or USD 2.3 billion to USD 3.4 billion—would still greatly contribute to the country’s economic recovery and growth.

At this point, let me congratulate the Export Marketing Bureau and the Philippine Trade Training Center for covering critical topics involving the halal industry.

This conference forms part of our mandate at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to develop and promote the halal industry. We also hold halal board meetings, technical working group meetings, capacity-building activities, and information sessions in pursuit of this objective.

As DTI Secretary, I chair the Philippine Export Development Council. The Halal Board, created by virtue of Republic Act (RA) No. 10817, or the Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2016, is the policy- making body in charge of halal export development. The Board also crafts the Philippine Halal Development Plan.

We see halal as a sunrise industry. The growing Muslim population is a strong demand driver of the halal economy. Estimated at 1.9 billion in 2020, Muslims are 25% of the world’s population and projected to grow up to 2 billion by 2030.

This demographic trend presents opportunities to the Philippines—for our export market and as investment source. Halal countries are already pumping their investments to Thailand and Singapore to supply their halal needs.

That’s why we are pursuing bilateral and multilateral agreements as part of the Halal Board’s advocacy and global export advancement goals.

Currently, the Philippines has three separate active agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Gulf Accreditation Center, and the International Halal Accreditation Forum.

Similarly, we seek to renew our agreement with our ASEAN neighbor—Brunei Darussalam. We are also pursuing new agreements with Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The last one resulting from the February state visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

For our Outbound Business Matching Missions, we have organized the Special Trade Missions in time for the Gulfood exhibit in Dubai, and our participation in the upcoming Malaysia International Halal Showcase. For our Inbound Business Matching Missions, we also have built the Halal Pavilion in preparation for the upcoming International Food Expo this May 26-28.

Developing our halal export industry falls under four key priority strategies for Philippine economic recovery and industrial development:

Number 1: Developing the regions by expanding outside urban centers.

We work with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to develop the region, which is home to majority of the 10 million Muslim Filipinos.

We also collaborate with Philippine halal certification bodies, state universities and colleges, local government units, major supermarkets, digital distribution partners (Grab, Lazada, Shopee), and other stakeholders in pursuit of regional development.

Developing Mindanao as the food basket of the country would help

us with…

Number 2: Ensuring food security for all Filipinos by helping streamline food supply chains.

We link food producers directly to the markets or consumers through technology-led systems. In fact, some Filipino agritech startups are already providing digital services to farmers.

An example is Agrabah Marketplace, which was created to empower Filipino farmers and fisherfolks to help them have a steady profit by connecting them to institutional buyers and partners through an online platform. Another example is e-Magsasaka which forecasts the harvest of farmers weekly, and markets their produce before actual picking.

The halal export industry also boosts the Number 3 key priority strategy: Upgrading, upskilling, and upsizing micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

We, at DTI, have a number of programs in support of our micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). We have established Negosyo Centers across the country, Shared Service Facilities, Go Lokal Pop-up Stores, One Town-One Product (OTOP) Hubs, and RIPPLES Plus, to mention a few.

Our MSMEs can avail of these DTI programs to support their halal business development.

The halal economy would provide a very good source of employment. Which brings me to…

Number 4: Enabling jobs-skills matching and skills upgrading.

Today’s MOU signing with four State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) on halal training mirrors our resolve to create the halal ecosystem needed to grow halal goods and services.

We also have the industry-validated Philippine Skills Framework e- books. These innovative tools can be used in halal upskilling and reskilling of our workforce thus, enabling them to better serve the needs of our halal stakeholders.

When decent jobs and livelihood become available not only for our Muslim brothers and sisters, peace will prevail.

We know that peace is also about health. And halal is about a clean, healthy way of life. That is why halal is for all.

If we are able to cater to Muslim tourists, the Philippines can become their favored leisure destination. This would open a floodgate of opportunities here and abroad for the Philippine halal industry.

So, together, let us create and grow the halal industry ecosystem in the country. Let us upskill, reskill, and converge our capability building in the halal economy. Let us make global excellence in halal happen in the Philippines!

Thank you at mabuhay tayong lahat. ♦

Date of release: 18 April 2023