France pledges agri, energy aid

France has committed to expanding trade alliance with the country following a courtesy call of French Ambassador Michèle Boccoz with Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

Boccoz said her government plans to expand alliances in terms of development cooperation in agriculture, and climate change, among other areas.

In a tweet on Monday, Diokno enumerated areas intended to be mutually developed.

“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,” Diokno mentioned.

Diokno also expressed interest in having more cooperation projects in the area of agriculture, amid problems hounding the sector.

To date, the French government is currently working on several agriculture-related projects in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Aside from this, French companies are also leading some local agriculture projects such as dairy and rice production, while a team of experts from France is also coming for a visit to study the African swine fever outbreak in the country.

Gov’t should lend hand

Agriculture stakeholders are still seeking government interventions on the persistent challenge of ASF in the provinces, which has been afflicting the livestock industry for some years, resulting in high prices of meat.

Boccoz also broached the possibility of forging partnerships on biodiversity, green energy, and waste management, mentioning 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 generation.

The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. In his first State of the Nation Address said it is the right time that the country should reexamine the approach and policy toward utilizing nuclear energy, geared to happen during his six-year term.

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

Currently, the French government’s public development bank — Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency) — is financing a 250-million-euro Credit Facility Agreement for the Disaster Risk Reduction Enhancement at the Local Level Program or DRREALL, aiming 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.

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