By Kathleen Joyce D. Bondoc / Office of the Undersecretary for Trade and Investments Promotions Group / Department of Trade and Industry

AS the halal export industry continues to grow in the global market, the Philippines is taking steps to advance its own through halal-industry development and promotion among exporters. Eyeing an estimated $2.6- trillion global halal market, the Philippine government is upbeat in maximizing opportunities for local halal products and services through various initiatives lined up by the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board led by Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

To advance awareness of the halal industry, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) initiated on April 20 a seminar on halal fundamentals, primarily aimed at advancing awareness among concerned government agencies and authorities at the Crowne Plaza Galleria in Ortigas.

“As we take into consideration the economic and cultural aspects of halal, the Halal Export Development and Promotion Board recognizes the importance of covering all facets of Philippine halal export development and promotion, as such all the details are being covered in order to ensure that Philippine products and services are 100-percent halal certified and all related initiatives are consistently upheld and carried through by all agencies in the government,” Lopez said.

Lopez noted that high on President Duterte’s agenda during the recent visit to Gulf countries is the promotion of the growing Philippine halal industry and the potential of increasing trade activities that will provide more job opportunities in the sector.

With the passage of Republic Act 10817—also known as Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2016—DTI is geared toward an all-inclusive growth to widen the economic opportunities for the Philippines, and at the same time, strengthen its capabilities to supply the world with quality halal products and services.

Promotion of the halal industry will increase the benefits of the Asean economic integration as goods traded in Asean member- countries with a burgeoning halal market, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, would be easier.

The seminar also highlighted the importance of understanding halal, both as a business venture and as a component of the Islamic religion and its culture, especially among non-Muslims who are venturing in the halal industry

“All channels in the value chain must be able to provide a comprehensive coverage of observance in terms of halal compliance, and must consider that halal is not just a process, but significantly more than ever, a way of life in Islam,” DTI Export Marketing Bureau Director Senen M. Perlada said.

The discussions were led by National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Commissioner Analiza G. Flores-Manalang. She discussed essential interventions, such as establishment of warehouses, dressing plants, freezing areas, transportation mechanisms and other facilities as areas of exploration for investors in the sector.

Prof. Ishmael Ibrahim also discussed the topic of Halal Dynamics in the country.

Participants of the seminar included representatives from the Mindanao Development Authority, Department of Foreign Affairs, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, DTI and NCMF.