RP in initial talks with Kuwait, Brunei on Halal exports

April 8 — The Philippines is now holding separate discussions with
Kuwait and Brunei on possible investment opportunities in the domestic
Halal sector, particularly in Mindanao, which has a comparative edge
over other countries in the region because it is free of the
foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and the avian influenza (AI) or bird flu

Agriculture Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras said that the DA is
offering foreign investors at least two big-ticket Halal investment
proposals in Mindanao — the Halal Economic Zone in Davao City and a
Halal model poultry farm in Cagayan De Oro City — worth a combined
P3.04 billion.

Halal refers to the kind of food permissible under Islamic law.

“The proposed Halal Economic Zone, which will cost at least P2.2
billion to establish, is the centerpiece of the Halal investment
portfolio being offered to overseas investors by the Arroyo
government,” said Paras.

To be located in Davao City, the Zone is expected to generate 24,000
new jobs for Muslim Filipinos, and boost the Philippines’ export
earnings by at least US$ 200 million per year, he said.

The other investment proposal packaged by the DA is an P840-million
project involving the establishment of a Halal model poultry farm
complete with research laboratories, abattoirs and other modern

Paras said around 32,000 Muslim farmers and entrepreneurs in Mindanao are expected to benefit from this proposed initiative.

The DA is offering this Halal industry investment portfolio to other
interested investors in the Middle East, Europe, Asia-Pacific and the

“Our exporters will be pleased to hear that initial talks have
already been held with Kuwait and Brunei on possible investment
opportunities in this sector, notably in FMD and avian influenza-free
Mindanao,” said Paras.

Mindanao’s other advantages in developing a competitive Halal
industry is that the region is a reliable supply of feed ingredients
like corn, rice, copra meal and fishmeal to make its Halal food exports
credible and genuine.

“We are very optimistic about this particular effort, which is made
stronger by the fact that we at the DA, in tandem with the other
concerned agencies, have started implementing the country’s first-ever
general guidelines on Halal food exports,” said Paras.

Besides the DA, the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI), Health
(DoH), Science and Technology (DoST), and Tourism (DoT), along with the
Office of the President, Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA), and the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) comprised the Inter-agency
Core Group that had crafted the guidelines for the country’s Halal food

Under Memorandum Order No. 201 (MO 201) issued by President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo, the Inter-agency Core Group was directed to harmonize
all government programs related to Halal trade in order to ensure
compliance with international standards and the effective
implementation of the Halal Export Trade Development Program.

With the global Halal food market valued at around US$ 500 billion,
the Philippines can earn at least US$ 5 billion a year by initially
tapping just one percent of this lucrative share through exports.

The DA has so far established 12 Halal abattoirs in the South, mostly in the ARMM.

It has also spearheaded the Philippines’ participation in Halal
investment forums in various countries such as in Brunei, Malaysia,
Thailand and Singapore, as well in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Being an active member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) Working Group on Halal Food Guidelines, the Philippines has
also been involved in the ASEAN-wide cooperation on Halal food industry
development since the early 1990s, when Halal food export was just
starting to grow in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and
Malaysia. (PNA)