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Sat, 08/16/2008 - 19:31
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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Aug 16 (Bernama) -- The Brunei government, which is in the midst of establishing a Halal Products Academy, hoped that the academy could guide the country in developing the halal industry.

The academy is likely to be the first of its kind to facilitate and promote collaboration between Syariah scholars and specialists in halal science andresearch to make the country a step ahead from its other regional peers.

Deputy Industry and Primary Resources Minister Hamdillah Abdul Wahab said the academy would be an institution and a platform for ulama, scientists and industry specialists to guide the development of halal market in tackling some of the complex issues that have emerged and others arising in thefuture.

"Halal is relatively simple, but industry, and in particular the food industry, has become increasingly complex, and it has become progressively clearer that a new kind of discourse is needed to ensure that industrial producers remain within the parameters of Syariah compliance," he said in his keynote address at the International Halal Market Conference 2008 hereSaturday.

Hamdillah said the ongoing maturation and sophistication of the halal industry has brought new questions for the country's Islamic scholars that required a new level of collaboration and understanding with the help ofscientific community and industry specialists.

The two-day conference involved about 300 participants comprising government officials and representatives from the private sector locally andabroad.

It was held in conjunction with the Third International Halal Products Expo 2008 which was co-organised by three Brunei ministries -- Industry and PrimaryResources, Religious Affairs and Health Ministry.

The four-day expo, which kicked off Thursday at the International Convention Centre in Berakas, showcased a wide range of halal products andservices from 180 local and foreign companies from 14 countries.

Hamdillah said the the Brunei Halal brand, which was officially launched by the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, would provide a platform to develop local products and contribute to the diversifying of the country'ssocial economy.

In addition, the usage of information and communication technology (ICT) was crucial as the global scope of the halal market made the intelligent use of software, the Internet and cutting-edge communications technologies an intrinsicand pivotal element of the halal market, he said.

Hamdillah said public and private partnerships were important to ensure that programmes which have been lined up by the government were successfullyimplemented.

With a population of 390,000 people, the country is poised to become the centre of excellence in the Brunei halal brand, standard certification,scientific research and ICT applications in five years' time, he said.