Brunei Darussalam is working towards positioning itself as a Halal industry hub in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and ASEAN regions. At the same time, Brunei is also focussed on the advancement of its Halal food, beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
In terms of economic activities development, the focus of Brunei Darussalam BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BD-BEBC) is to make Brunei a transshipment hub for Syariah-compliant products. The collaboration between BD-BEBC and the Labuan Halal Hub will further strengthen the logistics infrastructure of BD-BEBC, Labuan and the Sabah BEBC to operate beyond crossborder trading.
BIMP-EAGA through BIMP-EAGA Vision (BEV) 2025, provides the policies that give significant advantages for local business and their alliances to expand within the region by promoting socio-economic activities that can lead towards industrial development.
The BD-BEBC also foresees the significance of the Perak Halal Corporation and the IHTS Corporation for strategic alliance on Syariah-compliant products to cater for the growing markets. The cooperation will further boost BD-BEBC’s current initiatives in promoting Syariah-compliant products’ e-commerce platform. A Syariah-compliant payment gateway known as PayHalal will be used for this e-commerce platform.
The development of Halal and Islamic goods and services is a prime opportunity for Brunei to enhance its position as a business hub. The global Halal Industry is rapidly growing at an estimated annual rate of 20 per cent with 1.8 billion Muslims around the world.
In addition, Halal and Islamic goods and services provide ethical options for consumers looking for clean, wholesome solutions, which thus extends to Halal food, Halal travel and tourism, modest fashion, Halal media and recreation, Halal pharmaceuticals, Islamic finance, logistics and any other aspects. The possibilities are vast.
The country is also in a position to recognise the needs of the Muslim community and consumers seeking moral alternatives and develop products and services to fulfill gaps in the current market.
In November 2019, the Brunei Halal Showcase (BruHas) was launched with the theme ‘Leading the Halal economy in BIMP-EAGA’. At the opening ceremony of BruHas 2019, Minister of Energy Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mat Suny bin Haji Mohd Hussein said that the ministry encourages micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to collaborate with large companies and even those from overseas with an opportunity to gain support and access into local and regional distribution networks.
The minister highlighted that the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution poses both new challenges and opportunities for Halal business, particularly in food manufacturing. In this regard, the Ministry of Energy is working closely with the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) and other key stakeholders to ensure the Halal industry remains cognizant of changing times.
At the same time, its enhanced connectivity through digitalisation means the reach of Brunei’s products and services has grown.
The minister then shared that the Halal industry in Brunei has continued to improve and noted that the country is currently ranked among the top 15 out of 73 countries according to Thomson Reuters’ Global Economic Economy Report for 2018-2019. The country’s Halal Food sector is ranked seventh while its Halal Media and Recreation sector is ranked 10th and the Halal Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics is ranked sixth.
With regards to the government’s commitment in improving the ease of doing business in Brunei as a whole, the Ministry of Energy is constantly seeking to improve the business eco-system for the Halal sector. This is intended to provide a conducive environment for business growth, while ensuring a high level of trustworthiness that comes with this sector.
In further supporting the industry, Brunei has made an amendment to the Halal Certificate and Halal Label order (Amended) 2017 by broadening the scope of Halal certification to include non-oral medicinal products, cosmetic products as well as those for usage and services.
As of October 2019, a total of 8,889 permits had been issued by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), of which five per cent were for products outside Brunei.
The minister noted that, in addition to benefitting the existing ecosystem and commitment form the government to enhancing Halal and Islamic sectors, Brunei is attractive in a number of ways for potential investors seeking a base within the region. For example, Brunei is in proximity to ASEAN’s major Halal markets, namely Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. The trustworthiness and control of the Brunei Halal Certification and Permits also provide assurance to consumers.
In addition, the corporate income tax in Brunei stands at 18.5 per cent, which is the second lowest in the ASEAN region. The lack of personal income tax, value-added tax, as well as goods as services tax further exemplifies the benefits of tapping into the Halal sector in Brunei. Also available are competitively priced industrial sites for operations.
It is hoped that more foreign direct investments (FDIs) will be seen in the field of Halal products and services and that more partnerships can be forged between FDI companies and local MSMEs, as there is a vibrant and growing Halal Industry here.
The minister highlighted that the Halal sector is a potential source of employment and also a prime opportunity for budding entrepreneurs seeking to serve a social need. It is the country’s aspiration that Brunei’s Halal and Islamic sector rises to become a leader in the global Halal Industry with an export-oriented outlook to reach the regional and even global Halal industrial network.
This effort, he added, will require a whole-of-nation approach with close and active collaboration among ministries, agencies the private sector, academic and research institutions.
With the potential to be a Halal hub in the region, Brunei’s reputation for strong Islamic traditions and governance further strengthens its credibility in the Halal Industry. In addition, by the year 2025, the global Halal food industry is expected to be worth USD2.1 trillion.
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