The Gulf Today – By Mariecar Jara-Puyod
DUBAI: Officials from the UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) have been inspecting halal facilities in the Philippines in order that more food products from the Southeast Asian nation could be made available in the country.
Specifically, the MoEW had visited the halal facilities of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Philippine Consul General Frank Cimafranca said in his first press conference on Wednesday.
SMC is the largest food, beverage and packaging company with over 17,000 employees in 100 major facilities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Cimafranca said that the MoEW delegation had made recommendations and would inspect the facilities again.
So far, eggs and poultry as well as some meat products from the Philippines have passed halal accreditation.
“We want to expand trade and sell more Philippine products not only in the UAE but in the entire Middle East,” said Cimafranca.
Fresh fruits particularly banana and pineapple have remained as the top Philippine food exports to the region, through the UAE which serves as a hub.
Electronics rank second in the Philippine exports to the UAE.
Cimafranca expressed hope that the demand for Philippine food products would increase once the sanctions against Iran are “fully lifted.”
“Iran is the biggest market for our fresh fruits,” he said.
On when the Philippine mangoes – noted for their sweetness and fleshy character – would finally be in the Middle East markets, Cimafranca said, “How I wish. However, the current supply is only enough for our markets in Japan and the US.”
Meanwhile, Cimafranca mentioned that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, is moving towards one union and would operate as such, known as the Asean Community (AC) by 2015.
“The Asean will be acting as one and so it will be easier for businesses to be set up within the region since there would be no more economic barriers such as tariffs for trading goods and services,” he said.