UAE Help Sought to Develop Mindanao Halal Food Zone

28 February 2008 — The Philippine government hopes to seal today an
agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that is expected to open
doors for the country’s fledgling halal food industry.

Secretary Arthur Yap flew yesterday to Dubai to close a 26-billion-peso
($650) deal with the UAE as leading Philippine food companies
participate in the Gulfood 2008 that starts in Dubai today. After the
signing, Yap will submit to UAE officials proposals for possible
funding of the development of a Halal Economic Zone in the southern
island of Mindanao.

The centerpiece project of this initiative
for consideration is the establishment of a P1.26-billion halal zone in
Zamboanga City that is hoped to generate 24,000 new jobs for Muslim
Filipinos and boost export earnings in Mindanao by at least $200
million annually.

Another proposal to be submitted for possible
UAE funding is an P840-million project that is expected to benefit over
32,000 Muslim farmers and entrepreneurs in Mindanao through the
establishment of a halal model poultry farm complete with research
laboratories, abattoirs and other modern facilities.

Yap said
that the global halal food market is valued at $200 billion, which
means that if the Philippines can initially tap just one percent of
this lucrative share, the country can earn at least $2 billion a year
from halal exports alone.

“We have a comparative advantage when
it comes to developing the halal food industry: We are bird flu-free
and generally free of the foot-and-mouth disease, making us more
competitive than our neighboring countries,” Yap stressed.

the Philippines, specifically Mindanao, can count on a reliable supply
of feed ingredients such as corn, rice, copra meal and fish meal to
make its halal food exports credible and genuine, he said. In 2006,
trade between the two countries stood at $520.27 million, an increase
of 56 percent over the 2005 trade figure of $333.1 million.

exports to the UAE increased by $46.25 million or 39.8 percent from
$117.96 million in 2005 to $164.21 million in 2006.