New French envoy: Trade, defense cooperation focus of France-PH ties

Published February 11, 2021, 11:58 AM

by Raymund Antonio

Newly installed French Ambassador Michele Boccoz emphasized her country’s dedication to investing in the Philippines’ economic stability, free trade, and commercial development.

French Republic Ambassador-designate to the Philippines Michéle Boccoz presents his letter of credence to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a courtesy call at the Malacañang Palace on February 10, 2021. (ALBERTO ALCAIN / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Boccoz was one of the ambassadors who presented their credentials to President Duterte at Malacañang Palace on Wednesday, February 11. 

“Investments in key sectors of the economy in the Philippines is for us a priority. We see with pleasure that more and more French companies are investing in major projects and benefit from a good image and excellent cooperation with local companies,” she said.

Addressing the President during her remarks at the Palace, the envoy assured him “that France wishes to further its economic and commercial cooperation with the Philippines.”

Boccoz also said that it’s an opportune time for her to be assigned to the Philippines as next year will be the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as the signing of the Treaty of Friendship.

“United by these long-standing ties and their attachment to the same values, our two countries share the same ideals of peace, freedom, and democracy,” Boccoz said.

“I wish to seize this occasion to show you my full availability to closely work with the Philippine authorities to uphold and to further develop the high level of cooperation already existing between France and the Philippines and to continue building bridges between the people of our two nations.”

As a member of the Indo-Pacific region, France said that it wants to further its partnerships with the “fast-growing region” and commits itself “to stability, free trade, peaceful settlement of dispute, development, fight against climate change and freedom of navigation in the region.”

Boccoz also said that her country wants to “step up” its cooperation with the Philippines in defense and strategic matters.

Meanwhile, Duterte welcomed France’s “active participation” in the country’s defense modernization and Build, Build, Build programs. 

“As you begin your tour of duty in the Philippines, I assure you of my government’s keen interest to further strengthen cooperation with France in areas of mutual interest,” he said after officially accepting Boccoz’s credentials. 

Duterte accepted the envoy’s offer to further strengthen the two countries’ ties in defense, trade and investments, public health, and tourism. 

“Yet, our constructive engagement must continue to grow. The challenges we face today are unprecedented. We need closer collaboration bilaterally and in the [multilateral arena],” the President said.