06 July 2020

Published also in Business Mirror

The Philippines and Indonesia are set to enter a government-to-government (G2G) agreement to facilitate the export of Philippine halal products to Indonesia.

This was relayed in a webinar last June 24, 2020, by the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), Philippine Trade and Investments Center-Jakarta (PTIC-Jakarta), Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC), and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) on Indonesia’s new halal regulations.

“Although we have a significant trade on food with Indonesia, we want to maximize by exploring opportunities in halal. Indonesia is home to more than 200 million people and the first requirement of the consumers is halal especially for food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and personal-care products,” said DTI Undersecretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman as he welcomed the participants during the webinar.

Professor IR Sukoso, head of the Halal Product Assurance Body (BPJPH), in his talk during the webinar, discussed the new regulations of Indonesia, which called for a mandatory halal certification of products that enter, are distributed, and are traded within the territories of Indonesia.

These changes prompted the Philippines to seek possible cooperation on halal with Indonesia to further strengthen the economic ties of the two economies.

Sukoso underscored two options for international cooperation: G2G and business-to-government mechanisms. B2G mechanism is the direct application of the business entity, while the G2G mechanism involves a memorandum of understanding  between the two countries. The MOU will be an instrument for the subsequent establishment of mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) for halal certification and accreditation between the two markets.

“The most straightforward way to solve halal certification issues is to have a G2G agreement. We need to capacitate, particularly our certifying bodies, so that they are in line with the bilateral agreements with the countries we are dealing with,” DTI-EMB Director Senen M. Perlada added.

The DTI’s Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB) Director James Empeño discussed the accreditation guidelines and requirements for halal during the webinar. He said that while local halal certification bodies are yet to be accredited, there is an accredited foreign certification body that was able to comply with the national and the international requirements of its target market.

“While we are ecstatic about the enormous potential of the halal market for food, tourism, and services, both here and abroad, we need to also work in building our credibility and competitiveness as halal exporters to gain the respect and trust of the global Muslim community,” said Roberto Amores of PCCI, one of the speakers during the webinar.

Jakarta-based Philippine Commercial Attachè Jeremiah Reyes echoed the necessity to have an MOU with Indonesia.

“We have visited the office of Prof. Sukoso many times and the initial draft is with us at the moment. It’s just a matter of consultation to get the inputs of other stakeholders particularly from the private sector because at the end of the day, we don’t want the process to be burdensome to all of us, especially to the private sector,” he said.

The initial draft of the MOU has already been tabled for approval at the Halal Export Board level which will then be circulated with the Department of Foreign Affairs for subsequent transmittal to the Indonesian side.

The webinar was well received with more than 500 participants from Zoom and Facebook Live combined, coming from the enterprises of all sizes, covering food and nonfood sectors. It was also participated by relevant government bodies both from the Philippines and Indonesia.