Philippines and France revive high level economic dialogue

Paris, France – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo and French Minister of State for Foreign Trade Mathias Fekl met in Paris, France on 20 October to reconvene the Philippines-France Joint Economic Committee (JEC) after a 12 year hiatus. The high level meeting follows through a political commitment between President Benigno S. Aquino III and President Francois Hollande when the two Heads of State met on September 2014 and February 2015. The PH-France JEC was established in 1994 and was last convened in 2003.

Domingo welcomed the reactivation of the Philippines-France JEC saying that this is an integral part of the Philippines’ overall strategy for Europe. The Philippines has been aggressively pursuing trade partnerships with the European Union (EU) and was given beneficiary country status under the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+). EU-GSP+ grants the Philippines, as beneficiary country, tariff free exports for more than 6,000 products.

The JEC focuses on broadening cooperation in the areas of creative industries, tourism, sustainable development, aerospace, and aeronautics. “The aerospace and aeronautics sector is an area that both PH and France are eager to pursue. This is a growing sector with huge potential for the Philippines to become an aerospace hub in the field of aircraft maintenance and production. We welcome the commitment to deepen existing cooperation between the civil aviation agencies of the Philippines and France and the companies in the aerospace sector,” said DTI Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr.

The Philippines’ domestic aerospace industry has an estimated .15% share of the 2013 GDP, and a projected 0.57% share of the 2022 GDP. It contributes 2,200 in direct employment, generating an estimated $10 million as salaries of direct and allied workers. It expects to generate $1.5 billion in revenues in the next ten years.

Likewise, both parties acknowledge the commitment to achieving the objectives for the forthcoming Conference of Parties 21 (COP21) which France will host. COP21 focuses on adaptation and mitigation of climate change. To highlight the Philippines’ commitment to sustainable development, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) representatives met with urban planning companies involved in ‘smart cities’ development such as Dassault Systems, Vivapolis and Archetype.

The next JEC meeting will be in Manila in 2016. Preparatory seminars and conferences will be conducted to advance and implement cooperation measures on participating in the global supply chain for aerospace; collaboration on the creative industries sector; responsible tourism, “eco-tourism” and the relationships between tourism and development; participation in the global supply chain for agriculture, animal health, responsible food and protection of fishery resources; and the fight against the effects of climate change and natural disasters, among others.

In 2014, France was the Philippines 13th trading partner, with total bilateral trade valued at $2.57 billion which accounts for 2.02% share of the country’s trade with the world. Exports to France rose to $331.63 million in 2014, which is attributed to the increased demand for transistors, spectacle lenses of other materials, digital and other digital monolithic integrated circuits. (END)