Zamboanga Economic Zone (ZAMBOECOZONE), in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Local Government Units of Zamboanga City recently held a ground breaking ceremony of the Asian Halal Center with the DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez as the guest of honor. The 100-hectare area aims to be the center of Halal industries in the Philippines and in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region.

“Mindanao is positioned to be the manufacturing base for export-quality Halal products in the country. With Asian Halal Center, we expect to attract more locators and enhance our country’s position as the Halal industrial hub in the region,” said DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

The Asian Halal Center is expected to be a home for the production and processing of halal goods for the Islam-dominant region and is targeting small and medium scale locators that will cater to the estimated $2.6 trillion global Halal market. At present, the center expects to locate 14 prospective locators that will lease the center’s facilities.

“The growing Halal market worldwide is a potential sector especially for our micro and small entrepreneurs. In the Philippines alone, we have an estimated population of 9.62 million Filipino Muslim. We need to urge them to seize this opportunity and tap the growing sector,” emphasized DTI Industry Promotion Group Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado.

According to a report on the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2014-2015 published by Thomson Reuters, total Halal food market reached $1,292 billion in 2013  and is expected to grow by $2,536 billion in 2019 with 12% CAGR Growth (2013-2019).

Halal is a Qur’anic term that means permitted, allowed or lawful. At present, Halal is used in relation to food and other consumer goods that have undergone certification as permissible for consumption and use by Muslims.

DTI, as the lead agency of the Philippine Halal Board, highlighted its effort of increasing the awareness of the availability, quality, and integrity of the Halal products in the country. After the signing of Republic Act 10817 or commonly known as the Halal Export Development and Promotion Act last May 2016, the department is taking the lead in convening dialogues and initiatives in promoting the said sector.

Moreover, with the establishment of the first Asian Halal Center, ZAMBOECOZONE continues to position itself as the Halal processing and manufacturing hub in the Philippines as declared in a memorandum of agreement between the ZAMBOECOZONE and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) on February 2015.

The Philippine Halal Board, with DTI Secretary Lopez as the Chairman, was convened last September 19. The board is composed of members from nine (9) government agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Health, Science and Technology, Tourism, Foreign Affairs, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Mindanao Development Authority, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, and two (2) Filipino Muslim professionals who have yet to be appointed by the President.