Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines are exploring opportunities in the trade of rice and halal goods.
In turn, Brunei will explore the export of halal beef, lamb, and other meat products to the Philippines as well as opening the sultanate to Philippine industries seeking to produce halal products.
Close to 80% of Brunei’s population is Muslim. As such, it has a strong halal ecosystem, with certification standards considered to be among the best in the world.
BIMP-EAGA’s Vision 2025, which details the subregion’s economic and development agenda, considers halal as a growth driver, with food one of the economic pillars of the subregion. It considers halal as a crucial industry the subregion needs to further develop, particularly for the Philippines. Vision 2025 seeks to develop a competitive halal industry that produces market-compliant halal products and services for both local and global markets. It aims to harmonize the halal industry among the member countries, specifically their agro-industry and fisheries sectors. It also seeks to develop halal standards for food and non-food commodities, human resource development, infrastructure development, and product development and technology transfer.
According to the statement, Philippine Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban and Brunei Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Megawati Manan talked about exploring these opportunities during a meeting on 26 July.
Panganiban also proposed the export and promotion of Philippine coconut peat, coconut oil, sweet corn, cacao, pineapples, mangos, avocados, durian, fishery products, and poultry products to Brunei markets, through BIMP-EAGA.
The two officials also explored the possibility of renewing a memorandum of understanding signed in 2011 providing for bilateral cooperation on advancing the food basket initiatives of BIMP-EAGA as well as the development of agriculture, fisheries, food processing, and halal industries in both countries. The agreement expired in 2016.
Establishing BIMP-EAGA as a food basket in ASEAN and the rest of Asia entails integrating the agro-industry and fisheries sectors and developing supply and value chains throughout the subregion. This strategy is expected to enhance food security, create sustainable livelihoods, and reduce poverty.
The statement said the two countries would also look at scholarship opportunities and collaborative hybrid rice research at the Universiti Teknologi Brunei-Center for Research on AgriFood Science and Technology, which is the sole research center for agriculture, food science, and nutrition in the sultanate.