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The Philippines is seeking greater international recognition for the domestic Halal certification system to turn the Philippines into a major player in the US$3.2 trillion world halal market, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

DTI Trade Promotions and Special Concerns Group undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman, during a speech at the recent World Halal Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said the Philippines eyes becoming a big player in the halal market in the areas of halal food, pharmaceuticals, tourism, and Islamic finance.

Macatoman said the Philippines is looking to increase international recognition for domestic halal food products by achieving wider recognition for Philippine halal certification from certifying bodies in other Muslim countries, DTI said in a statement.

At the moment, of the nine certifying bodies recognized by the Philippine Halal Board, only three are recognized in Malaysia. This means Gulf countries are still selectively accepting halal foods, condiments, and pharmaceuticals made in the Philippines.

To increase sales of Philippine halal goods, DTI said Macatoman has obtained a commitment from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) of Malaysia to intensify halal trade between the Philippines and Malaysia.

At the same time, he has convinced the Halal Development Council of Malaysia to support efforts to improve acceptability of halal foods from the Philippines. Together with MITI, the council will try to convince JAKIM, the central certification body of Malaysia, to recognize more certifying bodies from the Philippines.

To improve Halal certification in the Philippines, efforts will focus on providing training, under the Philippine Halal Board, in certification and auditing procedures to prospective certifying bodies and enhance unification of Philippine halal certification standards with those of Malaysia.

Acquiring international recognition for Philippine halal certifiers has impact not only on the country’s halal food trade but also on tourism, DTI noted.

To encourage Muslim tourists from Malaysia to include the Philippines among their destinations, Philippine restaurants, hotels and other tourism facilities should be convinced to obtain halal certification, it added.

Macatoman noted that the halal market is not only for the estimated 2 billion Muslims worldwide, but for every person who desires healthy food and ethical standards in food consumption and business relationships.

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