OCEA, a shipbuilding firm in northwest France, has expressed interest in investing P1.5 billion in a shipyard project in the Philippines, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Wednesday.

Shipbuilding company OCEA, through its Chief Executive Officer Roland Joassard, informed Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and French Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester about its potential venture during a recent joint economic committee (JEC) meeting. It is seen to generate 500 to 600 direct and indirect jobs.

During the high-level economic dialogue, French Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester also presented three letters of intent confirming financial support for the upcoming projects of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), financial aid in support of a training boat contract for the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA); and a possible maritime expert proposal.

Lopez also handed over to Riester the intent of the Bases Conversion Development Authority to partner with France for the next phase study of the Clark Fresh Food Hub, as well as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ intent to renew aviation technical training programs.

Lopez and Riester also discussed possible cooperation in different sectors such as energy, film and animation, and agriculture.

“This JEC meeting is a testament to how the Philippines and France are now rebuilding together, after global challenges faced during the early phase of the pandemic,” Lopez said.

Both countries also agreed to pursue collaborative projects on specific integrated circuit design given the partnerships in the academe and electronics groups, namely Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. And Alliance Electronique. DTI noted that both industry groups have been conducting business-to-business meetings since 2019 when they signed a memorandum of understanding.

The JEC with France is the country’s longest-running high-level economic dialogue with a European country. The 10th Philippines-France JEC meeting will be conducted in Paris in 2022. But even before the next JEC meeting, Riester announced that he will visit the Philippines before the year ends.