Global eye on Brunei Halal
By Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday officiated the 5th International Halal Products Expo (IHPE) 2010.

Also in attendance were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah and HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik.

Celebrating its fifth year, the expo represents another milestone towards achieving the Sultanate's Halal mission.

In the past years, the expo saw the unveiling of several national flagship initiatives such as Halal Label Certificate and Halal Label Order 2005, Brunei Darussalam Halal Food Standard and Guidelines, Brunei Halal Brand, local SMEs packing incentive scheme, Brunei's very own 'Beras Laila', Halal Science Centre and the Brunei Agrotech Park.

The expo drew 39,000 visitors last year and this year, the organising committee is expecting at least a third of more visitors with a large number of exhibitors participating.

Adding flavour to this year's programme is a cooking demonstration by a celebrity chef Bobby Chinn. Wafirah Holdings Sdn Bhd and Ghanim International Food Corporation Sdn Bhd organised a cooking competition "Cooking from the Heart" earlier this year.

The announcement of the winners was made last night at the Empire Hotel and Country Club. The general public will get a chance to witness the cooking demonstration by the celebrity chef and the winners at the expo today.

Another new programme introduced this year is the "CEO Economic Forum: Learning Journey". The forum presents a panel of senior executives of global companies who discuss opportunities and challenges for Brunei in lifestyle sectors such as pharmaceutical, food retailing and tourism. Ross O'Brien from the Economist magazine will moderate the forum.

Brunei with its strong Islamic credentials is hoping not just to bring in commercial value partnerships but assist the country in the delivery of safe and quality Halal products and services globally.

Participants at both expo and conference will share their thoughts on what Halal can bring to their businesses.

The 5th IHPE is a platform that brings together public and private sectors that would help Brunei explore the vast opportunities in the Halal market industry and for local SMEs to penetrate the international market through networking sessions. The fifth edition of the expo reinforces the government's commitment towards the Halal industry.

For a local entrepreneur, Kasmirah Hj Jaludin from Sri Lyeira Enterprise, who showcases local dried food products, the expo is an avenue for possible business ventures with foreign companies interested to become a joint partner. "It's a family business set up since 2001. Previously, I had operated a night stall in Gadong," she said.

Another local, Dyg Salawati bte Mohd Jaini of Syura Wardah, who makes homemade local recipes especially for Hari Raya for the past 10 years, hopes to widen her business and attract more customers. "I introduced a package of food ideal as a gift for the upcoming Hari Raya. I hope to establish a joint venture with a foreign company. A Malaysian company has approached us (for such a venture) but the price they are asking is a bit low," she added.

Food importer Sullivans (B) Sdn Bhd's Managing Director Raymond said he is keen to negotiate with a Malaysian company to produce their quality food here in the Sultanate.

Hj Darningsah Rustiadji, a coordinator for the Indonesian participants who is no stranger to the expo having participated in the previous years, said 13 companies are taking part in the expo and supported by the Indonesian Embassy in Brunei.

It is a good opportunity to partner with local Bruneian companies especially with the establishment of the Asean and Asean-China free trade area. They showcase a wide variety of products notably a machine to make non-oily prawn, fish and potato cracker from Wowfood Industry, Indonesia, which she said attracted the attention of His Majesty.

They wanted to introduce organic farming during the expo, but due to a problem with a local forwarding company it did not materialise.

For Sabah's Perkasa Hotel Holdings Sdn Bhd Sales Manager, Mary Chey, it is an opportunity to promote seminar packages to Bruneians at their Mount Kinabalu Heritage in Kundasang.

Also, BIBD is showcasing home financing promotion and credit card care programme at the expo.

People visiting the expo can also see the world's first 3D LED TV by Samsung, purchase a wide variety of foreign products like food and drinks, beauty and health products, fashion and accessories, storage and packaging and Islamic education materials. - Borneo Bulletin (4th June 2010)