PH, France to increase cooperation in agriculture and climate change, among other areas

The Philippines and France looked into expanding development cooperation in agriculture, climate change, and other areas in a courtesy call meeting between Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz.

“We have many projects in the pipeline with France in the areas of infrastructure, maritime security, disaster risk management, agriculture, green energy, education, and climate change,” said Secretary Diokno in a tweet on Monday (August 8), following his meeting with the French Ambassador.

Secretary Diokno expressed interest in having more cooperation projects in the area of agriculture.

The French government is currently working on several agriculture-related projects in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mulsim Mindanao (BARMM).

French companies are also leading some local agriculture projects such as dairy and rice production. A team of experts from France is also coming to study the African Swine Fever outbreak in the country.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Boccoz broached the possibility of forging partnerships on biodiversity, green energy, and waste management. She mentioned examples of private sector-led technologies that have been able to produce fertilizers and green energy from waste.

She also shared that France has a lot of expertise in the nuclear sector in terms of energy production.

Secretary Diokno welcomed the idea and asked the Ambassador to help local government units (LGUs) with such projects through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

Currently, the French government’s public development bank – Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency) – is financing a EUR 250 million Credit Facility Agreement (CFA) for the Disaster Risk Reduction Enhancement at the Local Level Program or DRREALL. The project aims to support the devolution of disaster risk reduction and management and climate action mandate to LGUs.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Boccoz informed Secretary Diokno that there are about 120 French firms in the Philippines working in construction, logistics, business process outsourcing, shipping, water engineering services, and subway construction.

She said that 20 large French companies are coming to the Philippines in October to meet with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the local business sector.

“I also encouraged French companies to invest in the [Philippines] especially now that we have amended the almost century-old Public Service Act, which opened up public services to 100% foreign ownership,” said Secretary Diokno.