THE Embassy of France to the Philippines marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between the two countries with the launch of a special commemorative book and a classical music concert.
Ahead of the Philippines-France Friendship Day on June 26, when the 1947 Treaty of Amity was signed in Paris by French Minister of Foreign Affairs Georges Bidault and then-Philippine Vice President Elpidio Quirino, French Ambassador Thierry Mathou led the unveiling on June 22 of a special commemorative book illustrating the development of French-Philippine political, economic, cultural and people-to-people ties.
“France and the Philippines have entered a ‘golden age’ in their bilateral relations in recent years. We have seen an exchange of high-level state visits from the French and Philippine presidents, while more French companies are taking a renewed interest in the Philippines as a potential market in the region,” Mathou explained.
In 2015 trade between the two countries amounted to €1.44 billion. French exports to the Philippines also grew by 17 percent to €535 million that year, driven mainly by the aerospace sector, agriculture and food, electronics, pharmaceuticals and luxury products.
Meanwhile, Philippine exports to France also experienced a 28-percent increase to €602 million. This is attributed to the growth in exports of electronic components and agricultural products.
Today, more than 80 French companies operate in the Philippines.
Dynamic, diverse partnership
FOR his part, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano recognized the strong and diverse cooperation institutionalized between the two governments.
“Since the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, the relations between our countries have substantially strengthened with 30 agreements inked on various areas of cooperation, such as air services, trade and investments, defense, culture, tourism, science and technology, and higher education and research. These will help build on the Philippines’s momentum of growth and realize our country’s development goals”, Cayetano said.
“It is this dynamic partnership which we wish to share through our festival ‘PhilFrance: Feel French!’ The past 70 years of our bilateral relations have been fruitful, and the next 70 years hold much promise,” the French ambassador noted.
Concert symbolizes solidarity
A GRAND French classical music concert, Ravel Unraveled, featuring French pianist François Chaplin and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, followed the book launch.
According to the French ambassador, “The concert was a symbol of the multidimensional interactions between France and the Philippines. Among these, cultural and artistic cooperation have long been one of our priorities, particularly in providing multiple channels of exchange between French and Filipino artists.”
The proceeds of the concert will benefit the housing and rehabilitation projects of the France-Philippines United Action Foundation in Northern Cebu, the first foundation in the world to be administered by a French Chamber of Commerce and Industry mobilizing donors, particularly the French private sector, wishing to contribute to rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of Supertyphoon Haiyan (local code name: Yolanda).
Through the support of French companies in the Philippines, it has worked with Habitat for Humanity, the Philippine Red Cross and various local government units on the reconstruction of two sites in Northern Cebu.
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