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Tuesday, Dec 05, 2023

Economic zone agency promotes halal industry in Philippines

Economic zone agency promotes halal industry in Philippines

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority has announced it is promoting the domestic halal industry in the country to tap into the rapidly growing regional and global markets.
With the world’s Muslim population accounting for about 1.8 billion people, the global halal market is estimated to be worth more than $7 trillion. A third of it is contributed by the halal food and beverage industry, but the market also covers recreation, travel, financial services, fashion, and many other sectors.

While the Philippines has been looking to expand the market presence of its halal-certified food, especially in Gulf countries, it has also set the development of halal tourism among its priority goals for 2023 to boost arrivals from the Middle East and its own Muslim-majority neighbors such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

PEZA, which promotes the establishment of economic zones in the Philippines for foreign investment, recently signed agreements with the country’s central bank to expand the footprint of halal financial services in the country.

“Halal is not only a matter of food but it also includes the matter of halal in logistics tourism, manufacturing ... and financial accessibility,” Aleem Siddiqui Guipal, PEZA’s public relations manager, told the Philippine state broadcaster PTV earlier this week.

“We have signed a memorandum of agreement with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to invite foreign Islamic banks and even local commercial banks to register.”

Foreign investment to create halal hubs in the Philippines has so far come from neighboring Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, Guipal said, but added that the agency was currently focused on the domestic ecosystem and promoting financing among local players, especially small and medium enterprises for the industry’s growth.

“The strategy that we are seeing is, first, to support SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and start-ups so that they will have a mechanism or platform to grow the domestic halal industry,” he said.

PEZA is also involving the relevant authorities mandated with developing the minority Muslim community in the Philippines.

Muslims constitute roughly 5 percent of the nearly 110 million, predominantly Catholic population of the Southeast Asian nation. They live mostly on the island of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago in the country’s south, as well as in the central-western province of Palawan, and the capital, Manila.

“We also signed an MoU with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, and Southern Philippines Development Authority to support the halal industry in the Philippines,” Guipal said.

“It’s also a vehicle of our government to address the socio-economic challenges of the country, in meeting the needs of our countrymen, especially in the southern Philippines.”

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