New French envoy vows stronger France-PHL ties

French Ambassador to the Philippines Nicolas Galey has bared priorities to further develop the “already good” bilateral ties of France and the Philippines in various aspects, such as trade and economics, transportation and in particular, tourism.

“My mission is to further develop the relations of France and the Philippines, which is already very good,” he said in an interview.

Galey, who presented his credentials to President Rodrigo R. Duterte on December 2017, succeeded Thierry Mathou who is now the Director for Asia and Oceania of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

During his engagement with the press in Taguig City, Galey pointed out that while bonds are already strong, areas in the field of transportation, food market, and tourism need focus, adding in terms of tourism, talks aside from promotion is necessary.

“[Tourism ties] is precisely in which we need to work on,” he said.

“Developing tourism doesn’t mean only having more tourists on both sides. It’s improving the quality of infrastructure, the tourism companies, and the way people are welcomed, the quality of service on food, and that is part of our cooperation with the Philippines,” he added.

He said the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the French government are now in talks to hold a joint committee meeting on tourism to be held first in Manila.

“We signed last September an agreement for cooperating in the field of agriculture and also an agreement for tourism, which will mean we will also have joint committees,” he said.

Galey said the inaugural Philippines-France political consultations last December 2017 had sparked stronger engagement with the two countries after it covered and reviewed all aspects of the two nations’ bilateral cooperation politically, culturally and economically.

“We decided a program of action that is being implemented now, we are going to hold a committee for cooperation in the field of defense in the coming days. As you can see, we have a lot in our plates in the field of our bilateral cooperation,” he said.

In economic aspect, Galey said the Philippines “is doing well” in France with the “significant increase” of its export in the last two years.

“That is certainly due to the quality of your products and businessmen,” he said, adding a joint economic committee meeting between the two is also expected on the 2nd week of April 2018.

In 2017, France and the Philippines celebrated their 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

At their historic political consultations, an agreement to strengthen cooperation to counter terrorism, and to increase economic engagement through implementation of agreed programs and projects in the crucial sectors of agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, science and technology, digital economy and creative industry, were discussed among others. PNA