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The Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao delegation and the US Halal Chamber of Commerce explore business opportunities at a forum held at the Islamic Society of the Washington Area on March 27, 2017.


WASHINGTON — A forum hosted by the US Halal Chamber of Commerce for the delegation from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), at the Islamic Society of the Washington Area (ISWA) on March 27, 2017, focused on how the Philippines may be able to expand access and business opportunities in the U.S. halal market.

Habib Ghanim, CEO of the US Halal Chamber of Commerce and President of the ISWA Halal Certification Department, led a group of Islamic halal and trade experts in briefing the delegation on the business opportunities, as well as challenges in the U.S. halal market.

In order to explore the possible synergies among the various parties, it was proposed that a Memorandum of Understanding be signed among PEZA, ARMM and the US Halal Chamber of Commerce in order to formalize cooperation and assistance.

“I believe that this will go a long way towards ensuring the empowerment of ecozones of Mindanao,” said PEZA Director General Charito Plaza.

ARMM-Regional Economic Zone Authority (ARMM-REZA) Executive Director Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal, who co-led the delegation with Director General Plaza, also noted four important areas that should be addressed moving forward.

“We have to adopt a whole-of-government approach in order to reach a consensus on certification requirements that avoids confusing, contradictory and costly requirements; protect the integrity of halal certification in order to avoid loss of confidence by consumers; ensure that claims regarding health and safety are based on science and not on shariah alone; and address the relative lack of information on halal markets.”

The delegation considered the proposed cooperative effort to be timely because the global halal market is worth about U.S.$2.77 trillion a year with the trade in halal foods at U.S.$700 billion a year, accounting for as much as 12% of global trade in agro-food products.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman earlier this year also officially declared the Polloc Freeport and Ecozone in Parang, Maguindanao as a “halal hub.”

“The ARMM government is continually working to open the possibilities to the halal market for the region as well as for the country,” Hataman had said at the event marking the declaration.

The signing of the MOU may take place at a planned International Halal Ecozones Summit in Davao City, Philippines this coming October.

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