MANILA – A French company pledged ₱1.5 Billion in investments for a shipyard project in the Philippines that may potentially create 500-600 direct and indirect jobs.

This was revealed during the 9th Philippine-France Joint Economic Committee (JEC) meeting held last 2 July 2021 saw high-level economic discussions and commitments forged on bilateral cooperation covering agriculture, civil aviation, aeronautics and space, creative industries, electronics, energy and green technology, and infrastructure and transportation, and the maritime and shipbuilding sectors.

Through its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Roland Joassard, OCEA, a shipbuilding company in northwest France, formally expressed in the presence of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, and French Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester, its intent to set up a shipyard in the country.

Secretary Lopez highlighted the strong relationship of the Philippines and France to the French investors present during the Philippines’ REBUILD Investment Virtual Forum last August 2020, which was organized by the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF) International in Paris. As the trade chief exchanged information with Minister Riester on both countries’ macroeconomic performances, and their respective COVID-19 pandemic and recovery plans, he said, “This JEC meeting is a testament on how the Philippines and France are now rebuilding together, after global challenges faced during the early phase of the pandemic.”

During the JEC high-level bilateral economic dialogue which was hosted by the French Ministry for the Economy, Finance and Recovery (Bercy), both countries agreed to pursue specific IC Design collaboration projects given existing partnerships in the academe and between both countries’ electronics associations, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI) and ACSIEL – Alliance Electronique, which have actively arranged business-to-business (B2B) meetings and academic engagements since their memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed at the sidelines of the 2019 JEC hosted by DTI in Manila.

Minister Riester, who announced a visit to the Philippines before the end of 2021, also presented to Secretary Lopez three (3) letters of intent confirming financial support for upcoming projects with the DoTr, financial aid in support of a training boat contract for the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA), and a possible maritime expert proposal.

On the other hand, Secretary Lopez handed over to the French Minister a letter from the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) for the next-phase study of the Clark Fresh Food Hub, and another letter conveying strong interest for the renewal of technical training programs from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines addressed to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC).

During the JEC, French space agency, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiale (CNES) extended an invitation for the newly-created Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) to join the Space Climate Observatory Initiative, group of space agencies and international organizations, that endeavor collectively for “accurate assessment and monitoring of the consequences of climate change from observations and numerical models.”

In the virtual presence of its French partner, Centre National du Cinema (CNC), the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) proposed continuing projects in film and animation that have already seen Philippine-made content gain attention in top French animation trade fair events in Annecy, France this year through the local film council’s partnership with French creative groups.

Both countries also identified specific projects on dairy development, geographical indications, and control and eradication of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the agriculture sector, and areas for market access as the Philippines and France prepare for a future bilateral agriculture meeting.

Energy projects were also identified by both countries as they intend to explore alternative energy cooperation ventures.

Secretary Lopez also discussed with Minister Riester the positive impact of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus or GSP+ which has strengthened market access for Philippine goods in the European Union (EU), with the Philippine official emphasizing the value of a future free trade agreement (FTA) with the region, while Minister Riester expounded on the French strategy towards Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Philippines.

Both economic officials also discussed their respective countries’ regional and multilateral development efforts including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other regional trade agreements, and WTO reforms.

The JEC with France is the longest running high-level economic dialogue between the Philippines and a European country.

Both countries agreed to convene the 10th Philippines-France JEC in 2022 in Paris. ♦

Date of Release: 7 July 2021