Halal exports hampered by lack of harmonization

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halal certified products

THE Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization, Inc. (Philfoodex) wants unified halal certification rules to make it easier for products to be globally accepted.

Philfoodex President Roberto C. Amores said that despite the law passed in 2016, the development and promotion of halal exports has been lagging due to the lack of harmonization.

“[For halal certification in the Philippines], we are asked first where we want to export to. If you want to export to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), this certifying agency is the one you go to. For (the United Arab Emirates), it’s a different one. For Kuwait, another,” he added.

Mr. Amores pointed to the single certifying body in Malaysia.

Under Republic Act No. 10817, the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB) is mandated to approve all halal certifying bodies through the guidance of the Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) and the Halal Board.

The PAB was tasked to develop a scheme that forms the basis for all halal certification bodies to follow if they want to be accredited.

The government has set a target for halal certification of all eligible Philippine products by 2017 but failed to bring the various certifying bodies to an agreement on common standards.

“Since halal certification is selective, it is expensive. We have been working with the government to have one halal certifying body. This halal certifying body should be recognized by a wider, global market,” Mr. Amores said.

BPS Director James E. Empeño has said that the halal certifying bodies continue to approve products but these are not recognized by the government.

Halal certification covers not just food, but other products such as clothing or makeup.

“Halal certification is good because if you are certified, the acceptability of your products in the market, even to the non-halal market, increases,” Mr. Amores said.

Earlier this year, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez noted that adoption of halal goods has become more of a “lifestyle” option in countries that do not have a predominantly Muslim population, because of the perceived healthiness of Muslim dietary practices.

The DTI is projecting halal exports to generate $1.4 billion this year. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato