US: Two more US Halal Bodies Get Indonesia’s Accreditation

Jakarta. Two American halal certification bodies recently got accredited in Indonesia just months before halal labeling became mandatory in the Muslim-majority country.

Indonesia will start mandating all food, beverages, and meat entering its market to get halal-certified starting on Oct. 17. The Indonesian Halal Product Assurance Agency (BPJPH) recently gave its nod to two American halal certification organizations. They are the American Halal Foundation (AHF) and the US Halal Chamber of Commerce’s Islamic Society of the Washington Area (ISWA) Halal Certification Department. The accreditation also came at a time when the US still struggles with a trade deficit worth billions of dollars with Indonesia.

According to Aly Ghanim, the quality manager at the US Halal Chamber of Commerce, the American government did not specifically instruct local certification bodies to help Washington improve its trade balance. However, BPJH’s recognition, coupled with the mandatory halal certification policy, can pave the way for greater US exports.

“I think [BPJH’s accreditation] will help close the trade gap, especially since the mandatory halal certification policy will be in effect this October,” Ghanim said at a press briefing in Jakarta on Tuesday.

“We are getting accredited based on the Indonesian government’s standards. It will make [American products] more accessible to the Indonesian market, and that will indirectly have an effect of closing the deficit,” Ghanim said.

Although the mandatory halal certification fully enters into force this October, a five-year phase-in period has already been in place since 2019. The US has always imported more than it exports to Indonesia over the past years. The US reported that its goods trade deficit with Indonesia amounted to $23.3 billion in 2022. Last year, Indonesia saw a surplus of almost $12 billion when trading with the US.

Muslims make up 87 percent of Indonesia’s population. However, many American businesses are still unaware of Indonesia’s potential for halal-certified goods, according to James Chambers, the chief operating officer at the AHF.

“[American companies] are usually looking to get certified for the Middle East. There is a huge focus on the Arab world. When I ask them which country has the world’s largest Muslim population, they would always guess wrong. I have never had one person say ‘Indonesia’,” Chambers told the same presser.

AHF and ISWA are among the five American halal certification bodies that got BPJH’s approval. The others are the Islamic Services of America (ISA), the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (Ifanca), and Halal Transaction Omaha (HTO).