ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA) Executive Board Meets with ASEAN Secretariat and BPJPH
On 22 November 2018, the AFBA Executive Board met with the ASEAN Secretariat and the Halal Product Assurance Organizing Agency (Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Produk Halal, BPJPH), organised in conjunction with the AFBA Executive Board meeting held on 21 November 2018.
Engagement with ASEAN Secretariat
Since the conceptualisation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), there has been tremendous effort put into the development of ASEAN instruments to pave the way towards harmonisation. The ASEAN Secretariat plays a central role in coordinating the efforts on trade facilitation in the region.
Mr Ho Quang Trung, Director of the Market Integration Directorate and Mr Isagani C. Erna, Assistant Director of the Standards and Conformance Division from the Market Integration Directorate, met with the AFBA Executive Board to discuss mutual concerns on regional trade facilitation.
As ASEAN moves towards the goals under the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, ASEAN Secretariat shared the need for ASEAN to work more closely with the private sector. One of the key areas needed to be addressed is the different development stages of ASEAN member states and hence, the need for capacity building activities.
AFBA shared recent engagements with the ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standards and Quality Prepared Foodstuff Product Working Group (ACCSQ PFPWG) where AFBA presented on industry’s concerns and received acknowledgement from PFPWG on the industry’s feedback. The recent announcement on PFPWG’s new work on nutrition labelling harmonisation is especially welcomed.
In the spirit of displaying mutual support, the ASEAN Secretariat put forward a suggestion to AFBA to consider the needs of ASEAN member states, in particular the priority areas for technical assistance support that have been identified for the prepared foodstuff sector.
While the participation of industry members in PFPWG has yet to be established, the ASEAN Secretariat encouraged AFBA to continue on the engagement with PFPWG and share the positive developments in ASEAN with industry members. ASEAN Secretariat furthered with the suggestion for a workshop alongside the upcoming PFPWG meeting. This allows for more time for discussion to address the concerns from both the public and private sector.
Beyond the engagements at a regional level, engagements at a national level are essential to build mutual trust among stakeholders in ASEAN to facilitate decision-making process at the ASEAN platform.
Engagement with BPJPH
The release of Law No. 33 of 2014 on Halal Product Assurance (Halal Law) marked the transition from the Indonesia Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI) to BPJPH as the halal certification authority. While BPJPH has been officially established, it has yet to commence full operations.
The objective of the engagement was to learn more about the development of the new halal law in Indonesia and share the industry’s perspectives on the upcoming transition. At the meeting, Prof. Ir. Sukoso, Head of BPJPH, shared about the progress of the implementation of Halal Law. He affirmed that Halal Law will serve as the basis for the halal framework in Indonesia. Article 4 states ‘Products that enter, circulate, and traded in the territory of Indonesia must be halal certified’. He pointed out that this has to be read along with Article 26 that states:
(1) Business Operators that produce Product from Material that originate from haram Material as intended in Article 18 and Article 20 is excluded from submitting Halal Certificate application.
(2) Business Operators as intended in paragraph (1) must attach non-halal information on the product.
Currently, BPJPH is working with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to identify the appropriate logo and wordings to be attached on products that fall under the criteria stated in Article 26.
The implementation of Halal Law will be carried out in several stages, starting with food products. In addition, BPJPH is working with counterparts to develop positive lists, such as the list for additives to serve as references for industry members.
As a governmental body under the Ministry of Religious Affairs, BPJPH has been carrying out government-to-government (G2G) engagements as ongoing efforts to establish mutual recognition. This is done at two levels – ministerial bodies and implementing bodies. BPJPH is also involved in intergovernmental platforms, such as the Association of Religious Ministers of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (MABIMS) and the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) to develop greater integration among member countries.
Prof. Ir. Sukoso welcomed the support from AFBA. In particular, he mentioned the need for capacity building efforts to equip the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). As a regional trade association that reaches out to industry members of all sizes, AFBA is welcomed to carry out in-country workshops to enhance the capacities and understanding of industry members. Beyond that, AFBA, including industry members, are welcomed to provide inputs to BPJPH on questions or concerns related to the implementation of the new halal law.