Raison D. Arobinto / Halal Section / DTI-Export Marketing Bureau

24 January 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

In Photo: Assistant Secretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman of the Department of Trade and Industry speaks before the World Halal Assembly held at a hotel in Manila on January 18 and 19, with the theme “Developing Halal Premium Brand through Science, Technology and Innovation.”

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as the lead agency in developing and promoting the Philippine halal industry, underscored its efforts toward developing halal as a premium brand through industry development leading to international trade and investment.

Speaking at the World Halal Assembly held at a hotel in Manila on January 18 and 19, with the theme “Developing Halal Premium Brand through Science, Technology and Innovation,” Trade Assistant Secretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman stressed the importance of having harmonious halal certification and accreditation policies and standards for the Philippines to improve its integrity and credibility both at the national and the international communities.

Macatoman cited figures validating the need for the Philippines to get involved in halal export, import and production.

He said, “Muslim population worldwide has been steadily growing at a 1.84 percent per annum. In 2016 Muslim population was at 2.14 billion, growing to 2.18 billion in 2017. At present, 32.43 percent of Asia’s current population  of 1.4 billion is Muslim. In Africa, there are 635 million Muslims. World Muslim population translates to a $3.2- trillion halal industry worldwide. It is expected to increase to $10 trillion by 2030.”

At present, Macatoman said the Philippines only contributes 5 percent of the global halal trade.

But this is steadily changing, Macatoman said, “as Filipino entrepreneurs like the ones based in Zamboanga are in a unique position to take advantage of this trend, particularly the efforts of the Zamboanga Ecozone and Freeport and Regional Economic Zone Authority of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Preparation of halal food and fashion pieces require a great understanding and obedience to Muslim culture, and we Filipinos have a great grasp of this culture and unique practices. Filipino Muslims naturally understand what the global market wants and needs, being part of the market themselves. And the sheer size of underserved markets make it easier to penetrate the industry. There are simply more people who need Halal products and services than there are existing businesses.”

The DTI’s Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB)—as the sole agency mandated by the Philippine halal law to handle the accreditation of halal-certification bodies, inspection bodies and testing and calibration laboratories—is currently developing the national halal-certification scheme that will embody the official guidelines for the accreditation of all Philippine halal-certification bodies that wish to be accredited by the PAB.

Apart from improving Philippine halal certification and accreditation standards as an important segment of the halal industry, Macatoman named some of the drivers of this fast-paced growing industry: increasing global Muslim population and demand for halal products even for non-Muslim markets, Increasing awareness in the availability, quality and integrity of halal products, increasing the number of certifiers to ensure the quality and integrity of halal products in the market, emerging of new categories for halal-certified products and services, increasing growth of e-commerce and Internet-platform marketing and globalization and integration of markets, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Asean Economic Community and the European Union, among others.

Macatoman also cited the combined experiences of Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam on halal production and trade “that can bring in positive things for the Philippines, particularly the creation of a Philippine halal hub and positioning the country as a major halal player.”

Organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Region 11, the event was in line with the DOST’s mandate under Republic Act 10817, known as the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Program Act of 2016, which took effect after its implementing rules and regulations  were approved on July 26, 2017.

The Halal Act of 2016 was enacted to promote the growth and ensure the integrity and quality of halal exports. The law primarily aims to enhance the global competitiveness of Philippine products and services that adhere to international standards.

The law establishes the inter-agency Halal Export Development and Promotion Board to set the overall direction for its implementation. The Halal Export Board is led by the DTI, together with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the departments of Agriculture,  Health, Foreign Affairs and Tourism,  Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Mindanao Development Authority, the DOST and two Muslim Filipino professionals.

The conference served as an avenue for experts, entrepreneurs, academe, government and consumers to discuss views on the halal industry. The organizers prepared several plenary sessions for the two-day event and invited international speakers. Among the topics tackled were the halal technical regulations, the scientific implications on halal, the development of small and medium enterprises  through halal science and technology and  eco-halal, among others. Workshops on halal branding, halal standards and Islamic banking and finance were also conducted.

Islamic scholars, Muslim academicians and scientists, international certification bodies, government officials, entrepreneurs and Muslim and non-Muslim consumers were in attendance during the conference.