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PH, France economic commission meet focuses on 7 key sectors

June 25, 2023 People's Journal 532 views

THE Philippines and France have agreed to strengthen cooperation in seven key sectors during their 10th Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting.

In a statement Friday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Philippines and France convened the 10th JEC meeting last June 20 in Paris, the first face-to-face meeting of the two countries since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic three years ago.

Manila and Paris virtually held the 9th JEC meeting in July 2021.

DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual and French Foreign Trade Minister Olivier Becht discussed and committed to boost bilateral cooperation in areas of infrastructure and transportation, aeronautics, energy, agriculture, electronics, maritime industry, and shipbuilding.

The French government presented three letters of intent (LOI) to DTI: offering French expertise and technical support in developing the Philippines’ dairy industry; proposal of Aéroports de Paris on aviation; and the LOI of the French Treasury and Matière on road bridges.

Pascual and Becht also witnessed the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) signed by the National Power Corporation and the Mindanao Development Authority with Hydrogène de France.

The MOUs aim to facilitate the development of renewable energy and hydrogen power plants in the country.

The Philippines conveyed its interest to forge cooperation with the French national space agency Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales and its commitment to the MOU with the French civil aviation authority Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile.

The DTI added that both sides provided updates on the ongoing projects of French companies here, including the PHP1.5-billion shipyard development of French shipbuilding firm OCEA S.A., as well as the Metro Manila Subway and North-South Commuter Railway projects where Colas, Rails, Alstom, Thales, and Egis are involved.

There were also discussions on the proposed bus rapid transit, train signaling system, and the urban cable car in the country.

Pascual highlighted the potential collaboration between the Philippines and France in terms of nickel processing as French territory New Caledonia has significant nickel resources and is a major supplier of nickel for battery manufacturers, and France being a global leader in electric vehicles.

Green metals processing, including nickel, is one of the focus sectors in DTI’s Make It Happen in the Philippines campaign.

“Among the 33 JECs the Philippines has, France is one of the few JECs we hold at the Ministerial level. This fact highlights France’s important role in our overall relations with Europe. Indeed, we accord high importance to the JEC as a mechanism to continuously enhance our economic relations, particularly in trade and investments,” the DTI chief said.

Meanwhile, Pascual also asked the support of the French government to back the country’s renewal of the European Union Generalised Scheme of Preference Plus (EU GS+), and the resumption of the Philippines-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Bilateral trade between the Philippines and France last year rose to USD1.8 billion from USD1.5 billion in 2021, with Philippine exports to France increasing by nearly 50 percent, to USD756 million in 2022 from the previous year’s exports of USD514 million.

From 2017 to 2022, French investments in the Philippines reached P6.7 billion. Philippine News Agency