Brunei entrepreneur elected AFBA President

Azlan Othman

A new era lies ahead for the ASEAN Food and Beverage Association (AFBA), with the election of experienced Bruneian entrepreneur Abdul Halim bin Saim as its new President, to take effect in January 2020.

Abdul Halim, who is also the Deputy Secretary-General of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Brunei Darussalam (NCCIBD), said he looks forward to developing and promoting the Sultanate’s food and beverage industry on par with other players in the Asean region.

“We have to act and work smart, to be on the same level playing field with other advanced players,” he said. “Moving forward, AFBA will keep up with our core mandate of addressing trade barriers faced by the food sector to facilitate trade in the region. With the year 2019 coming to a close, the chairmanship is passed from Thailand to Brunei Darussalam to lead AFBA to new heights in 2020.”

AFBA is a group of national associations in Southeast Asia involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of food and beverage products. Since its establishment in 2013, various stakeholder engagement activities have been conducted to drive forward harmonisation efforts across Southeast Asia, so as to unlock the trade potential for food businesses in the region.

Year 2019 saw significant achievements under the chairmanship of Thailand. AFBA held a technical guidance programme in partnership with the Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (GAPMMI) from July 30-31 at Bogor, Indonesia, with the aim of enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the food and beverage sector.

Risk-based food inspection is one of the priority areas for the prepared foodstuff sector in ASEAN to strengthen national food control systems. As part of AFBA’s efforts to support the work under the ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standards and Quality Prepared Foodstuff Product Working Group (ACCSQ PFPWG), a workshop on risk-based food inspection was held on November 23 in  Singapore, back-to-back with the 29th ACCSQ PFPWG Meeting.

Nutrition labelling has been one of the priorities under AFBA. In 2018, PFPWG announced the new work on nutrition labelling harmonisation. This sets a key milestone, as the food sector can look forward to upcoming efforts on nutrition labelling harmonisation under PFPWG.

On November 16-17, PFPWG conducted a workshop on nutrition labelling as a first step under the new work stream, to discuss and identify the area that can be prioritised for harmonisation.  AFBA was invited as an industry representative to share the industry’s views on nutrition labelling harmonisation in ASEAN.

Bruneian entrepreneur Abdul Halim bin Saim (L) elected President of ASEAN Food and Beverage Association (AFBA)