Iloilo businesses urged to explore Halal market

Malaysian Embassy Trade Commissioner Siti Azlina (fourth from left) receives a token from the Iloilo Business Club led by its chairman Juan Jose Jamora III. (Photo by Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

The business sector in Iloilo should start exploring the multitrillion-dollar global Halal market if Iloilo City wants to bolster its thrusts on meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) tourism.

“We are positioning the city to become a MICE destination and venturing into the Halal market is something we can dive into if we want to become a serious MICE player in Asia,” Iloilo Business Club executive director Lea Lara said on Monday.

According to Lara, the Halal standards would be a good benchmark to capacitate the MICE industry in the metro.

“Even pag-host naton sang mga dalagko nga events, they are importing products para sa food so that entails cost. We have hosted investors from Arab last year and amo na ang ginapangita pa nila,” she said.

Halal, which means “permissible or prescribed by Islam,” has a growing market in Muslim and even non-Muslim countries worldwide.

During her visit to Iloilo on Monday, Malaysian Embassy Trade Commissioner Siti Azlina said the halal market is valued at about $2.2 trillion in 2018.

“It is expected to grow by at least 5.2 percent year on year. It is expected to reach $3.4 trillion in 2040 and I think everybody wants to chip in that trillion-dollar market,” Azlina said.

Azlina spoke at the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp. (MATRADE) trade mission held at Richmonde Hotel in Iloilo City on Feb 17, 2020.

To date, Lara said there are no Halal-certified establishments in Iloilo City yet.

Halal certification ensures that the quality of the products is in accordance with Islamic law.

“First, it cannot involve any derivative of pork, second it must comply with the food cleanliness and hygiene practices,” Azlina explained.

While the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) had organized a series of trainings on halal preparation, Azlina said there are only a few Halal-certified establishments in the country.

“I would urge small to medium enterprises to approach halal certifiers and know what requirements they need,” she added.

The commissioner visited Iloilo on Thursday to invite the local business sector to participate in the biggest halal trade fair, the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) set on April 1 to April 4, 2020 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Iloilo is the very first city that we visited for this. We also wanted to go in other provinces as well and Iloilo being one of the most developed cities in Western Visayas, we want to ensure that the business community here also knows about MIHAS,” Azlina said.

MIHAS 2020, which is organized by Malaysia’s trade promotion agency Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (MATRADE), will showcase various Halal sectors from food and beverages, food technology, manufacturing, cosmetics, logistics, and tourism among others.

According to Azlina, one business from Iloilo already expressed its interest to join the world expo.

“We are hoping we can touch base with more companies here in Iloilo to get them to join MIHAS,” she said.

By exposing the local biz sector to opportunities like MIHAS, Lara hopes that they will invest in Halal tourism in the metro.

“We also have to take a look at how we benchmark things like Halal tourism that is why we invited some of the players here from the agriculture to the hotel so that they can learn,” she said.