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Twenty-three high-level French businessmen representing twenty-one companies flew to Manila for a two-day investment mission (7-8 April 2014) organized by the Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF), the French Embassy in Manila, and the Philippine Embassy in Paris.

A third of the participating companies were from the CAC 40 or the French equivalent of the Dow Jones.

Mostly from the infrastructure and energy sectors, the companies listened intently as DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and PPP Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao enumerated fifteen big-ticket projects up for bidding.

The French businessmenwere welcomed by an equally high-level Philippine delegation composed of DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, DOF Secretary Cesar Purisima, DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez; Senator Panfilo Lacson, PEZA Director-General Lilia De Lima, and CAAP Director-General William Hotchkiss III.

Members of the Philippines-France Business Council headed by Mr. Anton Huang, as well as members of the Makati Business Club, also met with the French businessmen.SGV founding partner Mr. Washington Sycip made a special appearance to launch SGV’s “Invest in the Philippines” guide in French.

The French business delegation included companies in aeronautics (Airbus); airport design and construction (Aéroports de Paris, Vinci Airports); energy (Alstom, Cofely, GDF Suez, Green Lighthouse, Total, Tractebel); financial services (Crédit Agricole); infrastructure, transport, and public works (Citelum, Egis, Freyssinet, Matière, SNC Lavalin, Systra, Vossloh Cogifer); quality standards (Bureau Veritas, Socotec); shipbuilding (Ocea); and spatial (Collecte Localisation Satellite).

Some of the companies are already present in the country, such as Airbus, Alstom, Bureau Veritas, Cofely, Freyssinet, Matière, Socotec, Systra, and Total. These companies are interested in further expanding their business in the country.

GDF Suez and Tractebel will open offices in PH within the year, while some are looking to bid for future projects in the country.

Total trade between the Philippines and France reached almost 2 Billion USD in 2013, up by 55% from 2012. Last year, France jumped three notches to become the country’s 14th largest trading partner. With the French gaining greater awareness of the Philippines as an emerging economy in the most dynamic region in the world, these figures can be expected to increase even further.