Philippines, Malaysia agree to develop BARMM, halal industry

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Marcos Jr.'s Twitter account 
Malaysia’s king Al-Sultan Abdullah and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim welcomed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Istana Negara. Marcos Jr.’s Twitter account 

MANILA — The Philippines and Malaysia on Wednesday agreed to lead bilateral efforts in developing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the halal sector, which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said had the potential to grow into a “trillion-dollar industry.”

The agreements were made following bilateral talks between Marcos and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim as part of the Philippine leader’s 3-day state visit to the Southeast Asian country.

“Building on our bilateral relations, our governments commit to closely coordinate efforts to build capacity in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, especially on sectors such as the halal industry, Islamic banking, and food security,” Marcos said in a joint press conference with Anwar Wednesday afternoon.

“Malaysia has warmly offered their expertise to train Philippine personnel and officials to strengthen our capabilities in these increasingly important sectors,” he added.

Marcos also said he and Anwar agreed to enhance the Philippines’ and Malaysia’s trade and investment ties in a bid to boost the “halal ecosystems” of both countries, especially as Malaysia is considered one of the world’s largest halal economies.

Cooperation in the halal industry, together with Islamic banking, are also among the issues that the two Southeast Asian countries are expected to tackle during the next Philippines-Malaysia Joint Commission Meeting (JCM), which Marcos said would be held “sometime in October.”

The JCM, the President said, would provide Philippine and Malaysian government agencies “an avenue to discuss priority cooperation in detail, most especially in the areas of transnational crimes, agriculture, halal industry, Islamic banking, education, tourism, and culture, sports, and the digital economy.”

“We continue to work on the corresponding [memorandums of understanding] in these fields and we’ll have them signed in the near future,” he said.

For his part, Anwar vowed that Malaysia would do its “utmost” in terms of halal certifications.

“But I think jointly, we should undertake some effective measures to ensure that the halal industry can penetrate more effectively into the Middle Eastern market,” he said.

Anwar also thanked Marcos for the latter’s “meaningful” visit to his country, as Malaysians “have not had too many presidents visiting Malaysia on a bilateral basis.”

“There is a huge potential that we must explore, the strength in the Filipino economy, in your capacity in the business sector… Both business communities [of the Philippines in Malaysia] should interact more and jointly take measures to enhance bilateral relations and economic trade—and at the same time, resuscitate our economies [in the] post-COVID era,” the Malaysian prime minister said.

Marcos is scheduled to meet with Malaysian business leaders before returning to Manila on Thursday.

His visit to Kuala Lumpur is his 14th overseas trip since becoming president, and came as northern parts of the Philippines were battered by Typhoon Egay (international name: Doksuri), which has reportedly killed 1 person and affected 180,000 others.