DAVAO CITY — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is eyeing to bring back the share of halal commodities in total Philippine exports to 11% in four years following the recent establishment of the National Halal Certification Scheme.
“With our new policy in halal, we aim to increase our share back to at least 11% or more of the Philippine total exports by 2022,” DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said during the opening of the two-day 1st Philippine National Halal Conference held in the city on May 2 and 3.
Mr. Lopez, who is also chairman of the Halal Export Development and Promotion Board, said that as of 2017, the country’s halal exports comprise 8.73% or P5.52 billion of the country’s total exports of P63.23 billion.
“This is a decrease from 11% in 2013 due to the little support in the policy side,” he added.
The trade chief said now with the strengthened halal program, it is crucial for the business sector, consumers, and other stakeholders to have a “mindset shift” about how to make the Philippines a significant player in the global halal industry.
“As you know, religion is embedded in the halal discourse. But if non-Muslim countries can move the halal industry forward and make it a relative success, I see no reason for the country to do so (likewise),” Mr. Lopez said.
He cited the more than two billion global Muslim population as of 2014, and growing by 1.8% per year, with the bulk located in Asian countries.”This means halal opportunities for the Philippines are in our backyard.”
The Philippines has signed up for membership of the International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF), an independent, non-government network of accreditation entities that are mandated to enforce halal standards.
A single National Halal Certification Scheme and Accreditation Guidelines has also been completed.
Mr. Lopez said several outbound business missions and business-matching initiatives are also lined up this year alongside research collaboration with academic institutions.
“We are conducting capacity building and information sessions across the regions and in cities. Let us begin charting…new grounds to invigorate the Philippine Halal industry,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tourism Assistant Secretary Eden Josephine L. David said in a press conference on May 3 that they are targetting a two-year period to address gaps and challenges for attracting halal tourists.
This will be undertaken in six pilot areas identified as gateways of halal services in the country: Davao, the National Capital Region, Cotabato, Cebu, Palawan, and Zamboanga.
“These pilot areas have been chosen because they will be able to cater to the Muslim market (as) they have high awareness on halal/Muslim-friendly tourism and there are also Muslims situated in these cities,” said Ms. David.
The identified “gaps” include lack of information and appreciation of what halal tourism is, the capability to fully provide for the needs of Muslim travelers, and sourcing of food ingredients.
“There are other peculiar concerns found in their respective areas. It would be depend(ent) upon how the local tourism players would like to positions themselves,” she said.
The role of the Department of Tourism, she added, is to provide the necessary assistance to complete the value chain for halal tourism. — Carmencita A. Carillo and Maya M. Padillo