Philippines: Congress eyes measures to boost halal trade


By Mary Grace Padin, Business Mirror

Government officials and the private sector have expressed optimism that the passage of proposed measures in the House of Representatives and the Senate would boost halal industry and trade in the country.

Senen M. Perlada, director of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Export Marketing Bureau, said Senate Bill (SB) 231 and House Bill (HB) 6347 will clarify the recognition and accreditation procedures of halal meat and products in the country.

SB 2831, or the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act Of 2015, aims to create the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Program, as well as the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board. The bill has already been approved by the Senate.

Meanwhile, HB 6347 seeks to establish the Philippine Halal Accreditation, Development and Promotion Board. It was approved by the House on second reading.

Agriculture Undersecretary for Livestock Jose C. Reaño said the new policies will define the halal process and activity in the Philippines.

For one, SB 2831 will lay down the objectives, targets, strategies and activities for the growth of the halal industry to boost exports.

The program seeks to develop and implement halal agricultural and manufacturing standards and practices; to organize and develop accredited certification bodies; identify and expand markets for Halal products, processes and services; forge international and bilateral agreements; ensure the compliance of producers, manufacturers, service providers, traders and exporters to established local or international standards; and industry development and promotion, among others.

“The bill will enhance the DTI’s Halal Industry Export Development Program. Our mandate is to promote halal certified products and to help more halal certifiers have international recognition,” Perlada said.

The Halal Board, which the measures seek to create, will consist of representatives from different government agencies, the private sector, and academe. It will be chaired by the DTI, while the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos will serve as the vice chairman.

“We have to be together when it comes to exports, otherwise, it will be hard to penetrate other markets if we are not clear about the procedures and the proper authorities concerned,” Perlada said.

The new policies will also seek to establish the accreditation process of Halal certifying bodies—through the Philippine Accreditation Bureau—and to develop Philippine National Standards for halal—through the Department of Agriculture -Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (for primary and post harvest foods), the Department of Health Food and Drug Administration (for processed and prepackaged foods, drugs and cosmetics) and the DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards (for nonfood products aside from drugs and cosmetics).

SB 2831 and HB 6347 will also authorize the formulation of regulations for the export and trade of halal products, processes and services; the promotion of halal products to the global market; the implementation of research and development programs; and the facilitation of training and capacity building for farmers and manufacturers, among others.

A sum of P50 million has been appropriated for the implementation of initiatives under SB 2831.

Perlada said the proposed measures are essential as there is a need to define procedures, standards and regulations governing halal trade in the Philippines.

“We are a non-Muslim majority country so we have to go through the proper process and ensure that our certification, procedures, processes, accreditation and recognition have integrity,” he added.

National Meat Inspection Service  Director Minda Manantan said three halal meat-processing facilities have already been accredited in the Philippines, while data from the DTI showed there are already 514 halal-certified companies.

The country has been able to penetrate the halal meat market in the United Arab Emirates, but Perlada said its market share is still very minimal as compared to other supplying countries.

“The Philippines has a long way to go compared to other non-Muslim majority countries exporting halal products. The big players are Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. We have a small market share, but it is growing,” Perlada said.

He said halal trade in the Philippines has “great potential” for growth. A study conducted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry showed that the global halal market is projected to grow to $1.6 trillion by 2018. Of this amount, Perlada said halal food trade alone contributes $630 billion.