International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF) inks membership agreement with the Philippines, signifying the country’s interest to strengthen its halal industry.

The signing ceremony took place during the week-long celebration of the National Exporters’ Week in the Philippines.

Mohammed Saleh Badri, Secretary-General of IHAF, said: “IHAF welcomes the Philippines into our extensive global network. This agreement is an important initial step for the country that, apart from being home to a good number of Muslims, is also looking to capture a share in the flourishing industry of halal.”

IHAF, which has convened 28 countries in its network in a year, expects that this agreement will allow for the Philippines to tap into the lucrative halal industry, which is projected to amount to $3.8 trillion by 2022. Other member countries under IHAF include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, USA, India, Hungary, Mexico, Thailand, Pakistan, UK, Argentina, Jordan, Jamaica, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Yemen, and the rest of GCC countries.

This complements the Philippines’ initiatives to develop its halal infrastructure system, which included the recent formation of a halal board. Peaking local demand and rosy business prospects for the country ultimately call for a solid halal strategy.

Senen Perlada, Director of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), said: “The halal consumer segment is one of the largest, if not the largest segment in the world. We are looking at halal as a way of mainstreaming into the Islamic market. The strong bilateral ties of UAE and the Philippines serves as an excellent springboard for an international partnership in the halal industry.”

James Empeño, Director of Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB) who has signed the agreement on behalf of the Philippines, said: “This agreement signing is part of the continuous effort of the government to ramp up the development of the Philippine halal industry, with a goal to make the country the halal industrial hub of the region.”

The growing network of IHAF also benefits the Philippines’ trade relations with halal-importing countries such as the UAE. Philippine exports to the UAE stands at an average annual growth of nine per cent from 2012 to 2016.

The agreement signing was part of DTI-EMB Halal Section’s Seminar on Opportunities on Global Halal Market Access and Innovation in the Philippines, participated in by IHAF’s Secretary-General as a guest of honor.

Badri discussed the current halal market and certification schemes, the technical barrier to trade, specifically in the halal trade, and how IHAF can assist Philippines products to penetrate the UAE and the international markets.

Badri highlighted the optimism in the future of the global halal market, especially as more and more countries have expressed their desire to creating a global consensus on halal accreditation practices.

“The agenda of creating a tightly knit halal community across the world has been gaining traction since IHAF has launched its mission. The response has been overwhelming, and we are expecting more countries to formalise their IHAF membership soon,” Badri said.

“IHAF is committed to forging mutual agreements among member accreditation bodies in the field of halal conformity assessment practices in order to facilitate the halal trade, and maintain and uphold consumer confidence in halal marks and certificates,”
Badri added.

“As part of our mission of strengthening the global halal industry, IHAF also provides technical support to interested accreditation bodies around the world, developing their conformity assessment infrastructure in the field of halal,” Badri concluded.

Such dynamic halal market is encouraging manufacturers, SMEs and businesses in the Philippines to strengthen their participation in the growing market. Various companies and stakeholders have been paying attention to the huge potential of the global halal trade.