Philippines: Exporters urged to ‘explore halal production’

Opportunities in halal exports are on the rise in the Brunei-Indonesia Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga), and local exporters can tap into this by setting up operations at the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone and Freeport (Zambozone).

Christopher Lawrence Arnuco, chairperson and administrator of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority, said enterprises in search of emerging markets should consider producing halal merchandise destined for the BIMP-Eaga region.

Arnuco added that the Freeport is positioning itself to be the gateway to BIMP-Eaga, a growth region of over 57 million consumers where Islam is a dominant religion and halal-processed foods and goods are in high demand.

In a recent presentation in Makati City, he said the Zambozone is making enhancements to the site and providing attractive incentives as it gears up to become a key halal manufacturing hub in the area.

The ecozone is comprised of three development sites with a total land area of 16,120 hectares. These are the 1st Industrial Park (64 hectares), the 2nd Industrial Park (664 hectares), and their latest development project the Zamboecozone Highlands (15,391 hectares).

The executive said 100 hectares of land at the 2nd Industrial Park have been reserved and will be developed as a dedicated halal-processing area.

He clarified that halal production is not just about food products, but involves other products and services as well, including pharmaceuticals, ingredients and additives, cosmetics, animal feeds, drugs and vaccines, Islamic finance, and logistics.

Moreover, he said, “the potential of halal products and services is not only limited to Muslim consumers but also gaining increasing acceptance among non Muslims, as consumers normally perceive halal products as having undergone stringent inspection and standard control in terms of ingredients used, strict safety and hygiene specifications and sanitation procedures.”

The ecozone chief continued that the Freeport could be a base for exporters “to serve the growing global consumer demands for halal products, services, and solutions” as well as “capitalize on its competitive advantages to promote halal industries as the emerging engine of growth.”

To attract companies to the ecozone, Arnuco said the agency is offering a slew of fiscal incentives that include tax- and duty-free importation of goods, 5% tax rate from gross income earned, and income tax holiday of six years for pioneer industries, four years for non-pioneer industries, and three years for other industries.

Non-fiscal perks include lower-than-market lease and rental rates, 50 years guaranteed lease period renewable for another 25 years, and 100 percent foreign ownership of enterprises.

The economic zone can “provide the needs of investors and businesses, link them with the most integrated supply chain solutions while maintaining the most conducive investment environment,” he continued.

While the ecozone’s current market is domestic, “with the ASEAN integration, markets will be opened and cross-border trade will increase,” he said.

*This excerpt of an article was originally published on Sun Star on 6 October 2014. Read the original article here.