THE Philippines and France have reaffirmed deep partnership with the signing of several agreements to bolster cooperation on tourism, education, transportation and trade.
The agreements were forged shortly after President Benigno Aquino 3rd and French President Francois Hollande held talks on efforts to enhance bilateral ties between the two countries in Malacañang on Thursday.
Hollande is in the country for a two-day state visit upon President Aquino’s invitation.
“These agreements signify our decision to elevate our bilateral relationship to one of enhanced partnership, thus promising to open more doors of opportunity for our respective peoples,” the two leaders said in a joint press statement.
The first bilateral pact involves the “Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation” between the Philippines and France.
Aquino said the agreement would allow for the formal sharing of knowledge and best practices in ecotourism and sustainable tourism development, management of tourism destinations, product development and skills improvement of employees, among others.
“It is also my hope that this will encourage more of our friends from France to follow the footsteps of President Hollande, visit the Philippines, and see for themselves how it is more fun in our country,” he added.
A cooperation agreement on Higher Education and Research was also signed.
According to Aquino, this agreement “will foster closer collaboration between students, faculty, experts, researchers and administrators from both countries, as well as promote joint research in various fields.”
The other agreements were the Letter of Confirmation for the Financing Agreement for the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit Project; the Ceremonial Signing of the Business Agreement for the management, operation, and maintenance of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway between the Manila North Tollways Corporation and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority; and the Letter of Award for the Manila Light Rail Transit Line 1 Extension Project between the Light Rail Manila Corp., Bouygues Travaux Publics and Alstom Transport.
“Indeed, the enhanced partnership between France and the Philippines has already resulted [in]great benefits for our people,” Aquino said.
At the same time, the President added, he and Hollande also covered regional and global issues of mutual concern during their meeting.
Both leaders reiterated the importance of “maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia and promoting maritime security, freedom of navigation and the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including Unclos [United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea].”
They agreed, too, to intensify the call on the international community “to work together in order to fight terrorism in all its forms, as a common scourge to mankind.”