Manila: In a significant move, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Philippines has announced the launch of a national Halal strategy to drive economic growth, job creation and inclusivity.
The top-level plan unveiled Thursday lays down several key objectives: generation of Php230 billion ($4 billion) in investments, 120,000 jobs within the next five years, and the facilitation of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in their integration into the global halal ecosystem.
The development of the ambitious Halal strategy, set to take flight before end-2023, is a response to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s message to international investors at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
He has positioned the Philippines as a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, making it a prime destination for investments.
The two sides have already signed the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) during the Philippine National Expo Day at Expo 2020 Dubai in February 2022, and are currently in talks regarding the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
In January, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, met Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, during which they discussed accelerating the adoption of technology to catalyse the flow of goods, and modernising supply chains to meet the challenges to the global economy.
Their teams met again in Indonesia on September 3, at the sidelines of the 23rd ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Meeting in Jakarta, during which the two sides stated they are looking forward to forging a comprehensive economic partnership leading to a bilateral free trade deal agreement (FTA) to further strengthen economic ties.
Lifestyle choice, inclusivity
The plan also addresses the growing demand for Halal products and services, catering to both the Philippines' domestic market and the 57 countries comprising the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). These countries span across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
The DTI chief emphasised that Halal is not solely a lifestyle choice for Muslims. It is increasingly gaining recognition among non-Muslim consumers globally, driven by considerations of ethics, hygiene, fair trade, and just financing.
This strategic initiative underscores the Philippines' commitment to fostering economic growth and inclusivity in the Halal sector, with wide-ranging benefits anticipated for both domestic and international stakeholders.
$ 7.7 trillionestimated value of global Halal market by 2025
“Over the next five years, we plan to achieve Php230 billion Halal trade and investments and generate 120,000 jobs,” he added. “By maximising our potential in the Halal industry, together we will help realise the vision of President Marcos Jr. in gaining more investments, which will mean higher economic activity and more quality jobs, and then a better life for all Filipinos.”
The global Halal market is estimated to reach $7.7 trillion in market value by 2025, up from $3.2 trillion in 2015.
Halal investment hub
Under the strategic plan, the Department will be leading the inter-agency taskforce, composed of nine government agencies, that will create a roadmap to position the Philippines as the most Halal-friendly trade and investment hub in Asia Pacific.
Secretary Pascual highlighted that the Halal industry forms part of DTI’s four priorities – (1) promoting regional development; (2) attaining food security; (3) upgrading, upskilling, and upsizing micro, small and medium enterprises; and (4) enabling job skills matching and skills upgrading.
Halal food, finance, travel, fashion, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics
The Halal plan is not only confined to food and food-related products but also includes Islamic finance, Halal-friendly travel and tourism, modest fashion, Halal pharmaceuticals and Halal cosmetics sectors.
Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are set to benefit from the DTI‘s Halal initiatives.
Some of the initiatives that have been signed and are scheduled to happen include the Php66 million partnership deal with BARMM to promote Halal
DTI recently signed a partnership deal with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao (BARMM)-Ministry of Trade, Investment, and Tourism (BARMM-MTIT), with the budget of PHP 66 million, to promote Halal local goods and services provided by MSMEs.
This partnership will create jobs through social entrepreneurship and local tourism, train entrepreneurs, and revive the country’s creative sector.
Additionally, a Halal preparedness and certification training program is scheduled for the second week of November, with all preparations underway.
Invest Philippines Week: DTI is also launching Invest Philippines Week, which will feature sessions that will provide support to MSMEs for Halal industry development.
Halal certification of slaughterhouses
More slaughterhouses in the Philippines will soon be Halal-certified, according to the agency.
The Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC), an attached agency under the DTI, has signed an agreement with entities in CALABARZON for Halal training. More than 100 MSMEs in Marawi are also being prepared to be Halal-certified as part of the economic rebuilding of the Maranao people.
Further, the DTI’s strategic Halal plan follows the bilateral talks of the Philippines and Malaysia during the three-day state visit of President Marcos Jr. in July where the Philippines expressed its commitment to closely coordinate efforts to build capacity in the BARMM area, especially on sectors such as the halal industry, Islamic banking, and food security.