BRUNEI-MUARA – The government is trying to woo more foreign direct investment to Brunei’s halal industry, saying the development of halal services and goods could be a “prime opportunity” to mould the sultanate’s position as a halal hub.

Brunei is currently ranked 15 out of 73 countries in Thomson Reuters’ Global Islamic Economy Report 2018/19, placing seventh in the halal food sector and sixth for halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

“It is our aspiration that Brunei Darussalam’s halal and Islamic sector rises to become a leader in the global halal industry and a renowned halal hub,” the Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mat Suny Hj Md Hussein said on Monday.

“This extends to halal food, halal travel and tourism, modest fashion, halal media and recreation, halal pharmaceuticals, Islamic finance, logistics and any other aspect of the market.”

Speaking at the opening of the Brunei Halal Showcase 2019, YB Dato Dr Hj Mat Suny said the government wants to see more partnerships and joint ventures forged between foreign companies and local SMEs so that Bruneian goods can gain access to local and regional distribution networks.

He listed a number of factors that make Brunei attractive to potential investors seeking a base in the region, such as proximity to major halal markets in ASEAN, trustworthiness of Brunei Halal Certification and low corporate income tax.

With 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, global halal industry is growing at an estimated rate of 20 percent per year.

Thomson Reuters estimates that global Muslim spend across lifestyle sectors was US$2.1 trillion in 2017, while the Islamic finance sector has US$2.4 trillion in total assets.

The minister said the rapid growth in the global halal sector is a prime opportunity for budding entrepreneurs “seeking to serve a social need”.

“We are also in a position to recognise the needs of the Muslim community and consumers seeking moral alternatives, and develop products and services to fulfil gaps in the current market.

“Halal and Islamic goods and services provide ethical options for consumers who are looking for clean, wholesome solutions,” he said.

“I hope that our local businesses can look towards not just the local needs but also the needs of our neighbours, and then even the needs of the global community.”

In the Global Islamic Economy Report 2018/19, Malaysia was ranked the leading Islamic economy ecosystem, followed by UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Brunei’s halal sector generated $88 million in revenue and employed 835 people in 2016, according to data reported by 35 companies.

Themed “Leading the Halal Economy in BIMP-EAGA”, the Brunei Halal Showcase 2019 features over 100 exhibitors at the BRIDEX Hall in Jerudong.

The organisers — the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry in collaboration with Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali — said the aim of the expo is to bring greater awareness to Brunei’s halal sector, linking industry players with government agencies, academia and entrepreneurs.

The exhibition will be open to the public until November 15.