Philippines keen on Brunei’s Halal sector

Leo Kasim, The Brunei Times

imagesThe Philippines is keen to tap into Brunei’s halal sector to boost bilateral trade, a senior diplomat said yesterday.

Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Meynardo Montealegre said officials from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) recently met with their counterparts from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources to discuss potential areas of co-operation.

“There is potential when you consider Mindanao in the southern Philippines, which is a dynamic region where most Filipino Muslims are residing. Investment to and from this area will also help boost economic development in Brunei,” he told The Brunei Times.

He said the consultations have also focused on developing a working relationship where Brunei handles the halal certification process while the Philippines provides the raw materials.

“What is important is that the two sides have recognised that they both have a niche and want to engage in that,” he said.

Montealegre said the signing of an agreement between Brunei and the Philippines in the halal sector will expand bilateral trade.

“We’re hoping that such an agreement will be signed sooner than later,” he said.

He said that co-operation on halal will boost bilateral trade which is “not enough”.

“A bulk of the trade comes from metals such as lead and the Philippines importing some methanol so we hope that trade can be diversified and increase in volume at the same time,” he said.

He said the halal industry has a large presence in the context of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.

According to a March 2015 report, the NCMF and the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority is planning to develop a 100-hectare property in Zamboanga City to boost its fledging halal industry.

The property will house halal processing and manufacturing companies.