Belgium eyes tie-up in halal certification

Philippe Suinen, CEO of Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX), delivering his speech. Picture: BT/Saifulizam

Some of the invited guests attending the AWEX introduction presentation, held at the Business centre of The Empire Hotel and Country Club. Picture: BT/Saifulizam

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A BUSINESS delegation from Belgium that is keen to partner with Brunei on potential bilateral collaboration would need to meet a stringent requirement in terms of halal certification, says the Director of Administration at the State Mufti's Office.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Dato Paduka Ahmad Bukhari Pehin Siraja Khatib Hj Abu Hanifah said yesterday there were interesting and brilliant ideas brought forward by the Belgium delegation. The group was led by Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX).

However, the foreign investors would need to come up with a formal proposal, particularly in terms of technology in halal certification, if Brunei were to open up to the ideas.

"Come to us with the technology, such as in education and information technology. We are serious about it (on halal certification)," said Dato Paduka Ahmad Bukhari.

In terms of halal certification, foreign investors are welcome to propose technology that Brunei can use for halal branding but the certification must come from Brunei itself.

"We cannot certify halal things from non-Muslims...You come to us with your 'knife', and this is a good 'knife', and Brunei can slaughter with the 'knife'," said Dato Paduka Ahmad Bukhari, associating the 'knife' as technology.

He further stressed that it is necessary to be stringent when it comes to partnership on halal certification as "in any kind of consumer good, whether meat, cosmetics or clothing, it must be 100 per cent halal".

In return, Brunei can also offer expertise to foreign investors such as in terms of syariah (Islamic Law), as Dato Paduka Ahmad Bukhari highlighted a publication containing compiled fatwas (Islamic religious rulings) on Islamic monetary issues in Brunei demonstrating Brunei's infrastructure in Islamic finance.

In his opening remarks at a plenary session attended by various government agencies yesterday, Philippe Suinen, the administrator-general of AWEX, highlighted that the two countries are centres in its own right. "Brunei as one of the centres in the ASEAN region and Belgium as the centre of the European Union," he said.

Further explaining the interest of partnering with Brunei, Suinen stated that both countries placed priority on innovation in technology, as well as innovation in management, marketing, social research and human reseach.

At the same time, Suinen introduced to the Brunei counterparts the "Welcome Offices and Incubators", an incubation service allowing companies coming from the ASEAN region to test the European market for viable investment opportunities, for a period of three to six months at a low cost.

As Brunei has a strong position as a halal capital country, AWEX presented its strong base in specific development in Muslim economy.

In this regard, Suinen brought forward a PICCTRA — Point of Information, Contact, Coaching and Training on Muslim economy and culture. He also informed of a network of Halal Clubs that was created in October 2010 with 70 exporting companies as members sharing experience, information and action in relation to halal economy.

The delegation also introduced an idea about an Islamic Bridge Fund in an effort to develop a financial gateway between Muslim countries and the heart of Eupope.

With AWEX acting as a facilitator, there were three companies in the delegation that presented projects to the Brunei counterpart.

Of the three companies, Progenus that offers global DNA innovative solution, seeks to offer its services to Brunei by becoming a strategic partner for the certification development and the quality Halal control in the country, and to be the partner in locally developing a kit production network among others.

Another company, Ion Beam Application (IBA), introduced the concept of molecular imaging, a personalised diagnosis and therapy through a more patient-centric healthcare.

During the session that was held at The Empire Hotel and Country Club, the Brunei delegation was represented by officials from various government and non-government agencies, including from the State Mufti's Office, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Ministry of Health as well as the Brunei Economic Development Board.

The Brunei Times