MANILA – The Philippines and France are postponing this year’s Joint Economic Committee (JEC) meeting initially set for the end of November, French Ambassador to the Philippines Michele Boccoz told reporters.
In an interview Monday, Boccoz said the 10th JEC meeting between the Philippines and France has to be postponed to give way to the Ambition Indopacifique that will be hosted by the French government on Nov. 24 to 25.
The economic forum aims to strengthen France’s economic relations with the Indo-Pacific region, which includes the Philippines.
Boccoz said the 10th JEC meeting “will probably take place in the beginning of next year” in Paris.
This will be the first face-to-face JEC meeting between the two governments since the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Manila and Paris held the last JEC meeting virtually in July 2021.
The French envoy said the two parties are conducting committee meetings in preparation for the 10th JEC meeting.
These include committee meetings on defense and security that will take place next week, agriculture, science and technology, maritime security, and energy, as well as political consultations.
Boccoz said both the governments of the Philippines and France are prioritizing issues on food security and energy, with which the two countries can closely cooperate.
“Energy sector has become more and more important considering the global situation… The food security dimension is going to be more present as one of our priorities,” she added.
Boccoz said French company Hydrogen of France (HDF Energy), which has a project in Zamboanga, is eyeing to boost its presence in the country.
French shipbuilding firm OCEA also renewed its interest in investing in the Philippines by signing a letter of commitment on Monday to build its shipyard here, she said.
Boccoz said OCEA is actively looking for the location of its shipyard here that will initially build 10 to 20 vessels.
Movement of the Enterprises of France (Medef) head of delegation Philippe Matiere said OCEA has a good demand in the country as the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is looking into replacing second-hand roll-on roll-off (RORO) vessels.
”The DOTr really insisted very hard on the need for (a) standardized vessel, RORO vessel, that would go from one island to another. Your government wished (it) to be constructed in the Philippines,” Matiere said. “And OCEA wants to enlarge its activity here by constructing different types of vessels that the DOTr would like so bad(ly) to be used for one island to another to replace all the second-hand, non-standardized RORO vessels.”
The Philippines was able to corner OCEA’s planned PHP1.5-billion investment during the 9th JEC meeting. (PNA)