Philippines/Indonesia set to sign a trade deal

TRADE in Halal-certified goods between the Philippines and Indonesia is expected to improve as the two countries have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in Halal product quality assurance.

The two nations are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore cooperation, including on trade facilitation and Halal goods certification, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a statement.

The proposed MOU was one of the key initiatives of the Philippines at the seventh Meeting of the Joint Working Group of Senior Officials for the Implementation of the Philippines-Indonesia MOU on Trade, Investment, Handicrafts and Shipping held in August 2019.

The DTI said this means the MOU will serve as a framework to facilitate trading of Halal-certified goods between the two markets through a government-to-government arrangement.

Halal is an Arabic word which means permitted, lawful, legal or acceptable and is free from impurities and allowed for consumption in accordance to the Islamic Law.

Trade Undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman hopes that once the MOU is signed, “trade of Halal certified goods between the two countries will be easier and many of our local Halal certification bodies will be recognized by Indonesia.”

DTI Export Marketing Bureau Assistant Director Agnes Legaspi said they look forward to the MOU signing “the soonest possible time and commence a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) for Halal Certification and Accreditation thereafter.”

Once the MOU is sealed, the DTI’s Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB) will enter into an MRA on Halal certification and accreditation with its counterpart in Indonesia. The MRA will provide mechanisms for PAB-accredited local Halal certification bodies to be recognized by Indonesia, a requirement of Indonesia for products imported into its market.

The MOU and the eventual MRA “will pave the way for a strong cooperation between Indonesia and the Philippines in terms of developing Halal products based on International Standards,” Empeño said.

Indonesia is home to more than 200 million Muslim consumers while the Philippines has more than 10 million domestic Muslim population. The Philippines has put Halal policies in place as it envisions playing a bigger role in the global Halal market. / PHILEXPORT NEWS AND FEATURES