Trade between Philippines and France to drop this year

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Bilateral trade between the Philippines and France has been experiencing a slight turbulence this year as a result of an earlier decision by Philippine Airlines Inc. to revise the schedule of the supposed delivery of 10 Airbus planes this year, a French official told The STAR.

In an interview, economic councilor of the Embassy of France Gilles Vernet, said the value of bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to finish lower this year than the $2.3 billion recorded in 2014.

“At present it has gone a little bit down because we (France) stop shipping the planes to the Philippines so it’s down a little bit. It’s going to be lower (this year) because last year there were a lot of delivery of airplanes,” Vernet said.

France to date has consistently been one of the country’s biggest markets for import and export merchandise trade and has risen to become the Philippines’ second largest trading partner among European Union member states, according to the Philippines-France Business Council (PFBC).

However, Vernet said he expects the current slowdown in trade between the two countries not to last long as interest among French firms in other industries to the country remains strong.

“I think there will be new contracts and new opportunities that will make it go up. We have a very dynamic trade in cosmetics, wine, cheese, meat, and many other products in France,” he said.

Vernet said there is also a wave of French companies making a move to participate in the Philippine government’s public private partnership (PPP) projects.

“We are participating basically in all PPP projects. There are a lot of tenders being bidded for airports and we have companies looking at this. We also have port companies looking for PPPs for port as well as for public transport and roads,” he said.

For his part, PFBC chairman Anthony Huang Jr. said publicly listed high-end retailer SSI Group Inc. is looking to bring in more French brands in the coming years.

“At this point, there are discussions with a couple of other French companies,” said Huang, who also currently serves as SSI president.

With the balance of trade between Philippines and France heavily in favor of the latter, the Embassy of France along with PFBC are working to promote France as an investment destination among local companies as well.

“Trade with France has increased significantly over the last five years with the merchandise and retail sector aggressively taking advantage of the expanding consumer market in the Philippines. Popular French brands and products are now more than ever an increasingly common sight in our malls and groceries which would explain our country’s balance of trade constantly in favor of our French partners,” Huang said.

“However, our council has recognized that our bilateral economic relations should be a two way stream. Given the current emergence of the outward looking Filipino investor, it is high time the French market be highly regarded and considered by Philippine business,” he added.

Vernet said Philippine exports to France has been picking up as of late after the country obtained the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus status.

“I think the Philippine products are starting to be very well known in France right now. There’s definitely a very strong interest from France to the Philippines. Now, the interest is starting to pick up from the Philippines to France,” Vernet said.













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