Islamic banks eye PH halal ecozones

Published September 21, 2020, 5:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Islamic banks and Muslim investors have expressed strong interest to invest in the Philippines for halal food production once the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has established these specialized economic zones.

PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza (Photo credit from Corporate Communications Division Philippine Economic Zone Authority)

“Islamic banks and Muslim investors of the world not just in the Middle East are waiting as soon as our halal hubs and production zones are made available,” PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza announced at the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA).

Plaza said the various investor groups interested in the halal sector has pushed PEZA to prioritize the promotion of halal hubs and production zones especially in Mindanao, which hosts the most number of Muslim population in the country.          

To accelerate the creation of halal hubs and production zones, PEZA has partnered with SPDA for the establishment of a specialized zone inside its 4,000 hectare area in Lanao del Sur. The MOU was signed by Plaza and SPDA CEO and Administrator Gerry Ajul 

Salapuddin during the virtual meeting. 

Salapuddin said that SPDA has 4,000 hectares of land in Wao and Tubaran in Lanao del Sur, which have been identified for agri-industrial projects.

Plaza expressed confidence the partnership with SPDA, together with Mindanao Authority and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos would fast track the promotion and development of halal hubs and production ecozones in Mindanao.

Both parties agreed to cooperate to promote investments in halal food production in Minanao. 

They also agreed to sign a memorandum of agreement soon to firm their partnership and implement the project.

Meanwhile, Salapuddin also recalled of the earlier $16 million pledge by the Brunei government during a state visit by President Duterte for the establishment of halal hub in the Zamboanga City Economic Zone.

The SPDA Chief said a follow up to this Brunei commitment would be worth doing a follow up because the Zamboanga City Economic Zone is in dire need of new locators as it has only 6 investors so far.

In fact, he said, the ecozone is looking into reviving a barter trade with the members of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area countries. “They also offer a space for the barter trade council and SPDA perhaps to make their ecozone busier,” he said.

The Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau said exports of indicative halal products reached $560 million in 2018. The world halal market is estimated at $3.2 trillion.