Published in Business Mirror

12 September 2017

By Raison D. Arobinto / Senior Trade-Industry Development Specialist Halal Section, DTI-EMB

THE Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), together with the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority (Zambo ecozone), conducted a trade, investments and technical-assistance mission in Brunei Darussalam to seek stronger partnership with its counterpart in the country during the two-day official visit on August 14 and 15.

The mission was in consonance with the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries for cooperation on halal industry and halal export development and promotion signed during the state visit of Sultan Hassanil Bolkiah in Manila in April.

Among the areas of cooperation where the Philippines and Brunei could build on include sourcing of materials for the manufacturing of halal products, exchanges of visits between and study tours of personnel on subjects of mutual interest, exchange of professionals and technicians, and training of technical personnel, development of partnership in the investments and production of halal food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals for the international market, halal market development and trade relations, promotion of private-sector participation and any other form of cooperation as jointly decided by the two countries.

EMB Director Senen M. Perlada, also head of the Philippine Halal Export Board Secretariat, sought for the creation of a joint committee primarily to put flesh to the MOU and provide action plans for its implementation. In particular, the two countries hope to share technical knowledge on their halal standards, identify interventions and action points relevant to existing market-access requirements and address relevant issues and concerns in this regard and establish linkages with the international halal-industry players and identify areas of cooperation and collaboration related to halal export development and promotion.

Perlada said the joint committee could be anchored on the joint committee-bilateral cooperation (JC-BC) between the Philippines and Brunei as the overarching synergy for all efforts of the both parties.

“The Philippines is a good strategic partner for sourcing of raw materials,” Brunei Deputy Permanent Secretary Hjh Nor Ashikin Hj Johari of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said during her meeting with the Philippine delegation on the first day of the official visit. She admitted that nearly 100 percent of Brunei’s beef meat is imported from Australia, adding that given the proximity of Brunei to the Philippines, the MOU could explore opportunities of having a partnership in this regard.

For instance, the raw materials will be sourced from the Philippines and processed in Brunei using Brunei halal standards and will be used not only for domestic market, but also for export in other Islamic markets worldwide.

DTI Assistant Secretary Abdulgani Macatoman, head of the Philippine delegation, asserted that the Philippines would be a great value partner.

“The Philippines has vast land, manpower and resources, which the two countries could mutually benefit from,” he said.

Engr. El-Shal Sali of the Zambo ecozone underscored the potential role of the zone. He mentioned about the 100-hectare land specifically dedicated for the halal hub in the region.

He said the Zambo ecozone is the only port in the region with a free-port status, which gives an advantage for investments. He also said there are about 30 investors already in the area.