BRUNEI-MUARA – Women-led companies from South Korea have engaged Brunei’s Women Business Council (WBC) in hopes to pair its expertise with the sultanate’s know-how in halal food and tap into the global market.

The Korea Venture Business Women’s Association Daegu Gyeongbuk (KAVWADG) inked a memorandum of understanding with the WBC on Tuesday agreeing to share expertise and resources from both parties, particularly in the use of technology for halal food production.

“Now Korea is looking into the potential of the halal food industry, we recognise its value and [through this collaboration] we want to create [a greater] awareness on halal products in Korea,” said Lee Hae Yong, chairman of the association.

She added that although the market for halal food products in Korea may be small, with Muslims representing only 0.4 per cent of the country’s population, the international market for halal food products is vast, resulting in the rising interest from Korean companies to enter this sector of the food industry.

Last year, the global halal food market reached a value of US$ 1.4 trillion and the value is expected to increase to US$2.6 trillion by 2023.

“We have the technological expertise and Brunei has knowledge [in producing halal food products], so combined, we can take the products to the global market together,” added Lee in an interview with media on the sidelines of the event.

President of WBC, Datin Paduka Hjh Rokiah Hj Zakiah said that the agreement is a welcome development, that may help progress the state of halal food production in the country.

“To get to the next level [in the halal food industry] we need their help, and with the technological resources that they have, that they are willing to share, we can do more [in terms of halal food production],” she said.

In 2016, Brunei’s halal industry earned $88 million in revenue.

Lee, who is also the CEO of Hansung Bravo, a company that manufactures automated car washing machines, went on to say that they are looking into invest in the country, with hopes that the signed agreement would allow her to secure a local partner.

She said that with the increasing growth of private car ownership in Brunei, it is “encouraging” as it may reflect a potential demand for her business in the sultanate.

According to a 2016 report published by the Oxford Business Group, private car ownership in Brunei Darussalam grew by 19 per cent between 2011 and 2014.

Based on 2017 statistics published by the Land Transport Department, the total number of vehicles registered in the country stands at 408, 969, compared to the country’s population of 425,000.