||Asean Affairs 23 May 2013
Brunei, France see potential in halal food sector collaboration
FRANCE sees ample potential to collaborate with Brunei in the two countries' halal food industry, said French Ambassador to Brunei, His Excellency, Jean-Yves Berthault.
At the French-Brunei Business Association (FBBA) luncheon held at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, yesterday, Berthault delivered a presentation on the opportunities that Bruneian businesses could have in France, and noted that the halal food industry could be one of them.
Concurring on the subject matter, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry & Primary Resources, Hjh Normah Suria Hayati Pehin Jawatan Dalam Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Utama (Dr) Hj Awang Mohd Jamil Al-Sufri, said Brunei is also trying to develop its halal sector, under the Brunei Halal brand.
Hjh Normah highlighted that one of Brunei's identified priorities is in food security, and with France's agriculture industry, she believed the two countries can collaborate to produce "high quality" food products.
While there are no official figures about the number of Muslims living in France, Berthault said the figure could be north of six million, and estimated that there could probably be 10 million Muslims there.
"We don't know the exact number of Muslims in France, because we don't compile statistics based on race and religion, but there is a very significant number of Muslims," he said.
He added that there is a number of French Muslims who have set up companies in agriculture and farming with strict halal rules.
The French Ambassador said that this was what led him to think both countries could explore "cooperation projects" in this field.
Apart from the halal industry, he also added that there are a number of industrial sectors that Bruneian businesses could be a part of, including airspace, aeronautics, defence, construction, luxury goods, agriculture and energy.
Berthault said due to the current economic situation in France, this could be an advantageous time for foreign investors to come in to explore investment opportunities there.
"(This is when France) is offering opportunities at better cost," he said.
The French Ambassador added that because of the economic crisis, shares are worth "a bit less" than they were about seven years ago, and it is an opportune time for investors to enter the market.
"Of course, entering the market when it is on top and extremely flourishing is good, but there is a price to pay, which could be heaviest," he said.
Berthault highlighted that if businesses enter during a financial crisis, it is when "good deals" are made.
"Simply because, in a period of a crisis, banks are more reluctant to lend, and that offers a lot of entries for new and fresh investments in various sectors," he said.The Brunei Times
Although there are currently no direct flight connections between Brunei and France, Berthault said that realistically, both countries would have to further develop their bilateral business first. He added that there are "a number of texts" that are currently in discussion that could benefit trade between both countries, but that any free trade agreements that Brunei has entered with the European Union would also be applicable between France and Brunei.