US troops to leave Chad in second African state withdrawal

US troops to leave Chad in second African state withdrawal
US troops to leave Chad in second African state withdrawal

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - MANILA: Philippine businesses in Makati City are joining hands with the Department of Trade and Industry to make the country’s financial center a halal hub, the head of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Makati branch said on Saturday.

Makati City in Metro Manila is often referred to as the Philippines’ central business district. It has the highest concentration of banks and multinational and local corporations in the country. Foreign embassies are also based there.

The predominantly Catholic Philippines — where Muslims constitute about 10 percent of the nearly 120 million population — plans to raise 230 billion pesos ($4 billion) in investments and generate around 120,000 jobs by expanding its domestic halal industry by 2028.

The DTI signed on Friday a memorandum of understanding with PCCI Makati to join the government’s efforts to tap into the global halal market, which is estimated to be worth more than $7 trillion.

“To be able to implement its policies more effectively — such as the promotion and development of the country’s halal industry — they (the government) have to collaborate or strike a partnership with the business community or the businessmen who will be responsible in making this a reality,” PCCI Makati President Toots Cortez told Arab News.

“We can be the catalyst. We will begin by creating awareness, especially among the MSMEs (micro, small and midsize enterprises) because, according to the records of DTI, 99.5 percent of business in the Philippines are composed of SMEs.”

The agreement on establishing the Makati Halal Hub will position the city as a “central point for innovation and business in the halal sector, spanning a variety of industries including food production, financial services, and more,” the DTI said in a statement, as it expects the initiative to “provide substantial opportunities for Filipino entrepreneurs and international investors alike, fostering a robust economic ecosystem.”

According to the vision, the hub will act as a platform facilitating connections between manufacturers, traders, buyers, distributors and consumers in the halal sector.

“If we can group together and promote halal, I think that will be the best approach … You don’t need a big budget,” Cortez said.

“There are many Muslim embassies in Makati City, many restaurants and major establishments … Many tourists come to Makati, so if we can convince the establishments in Makati to be accredited as halal, that’s a good beginning from our side as a catalyst.”

He believes that the industry’s promotion in the city will make an impact as Makati is widely perceived as a trendsetter for other Philippine regions.

“The others, they follow the lead,” Cortez said. “They follow the lead on what’s happening in Makati City.”

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