Sunday, October 21, 2012

France, PHL to ink agreements on rice straw study, museum

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was in the country for a historic state visit Friday where he would witness the signing of two agreements with the Philippines, including one for a grant to study the feasibility of rice straws as biofuel. Ayrault’s visit—the first for any French head of state—is the Aquino administration’s return of gratitude for the invitation France extended to President Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, in 1989. “It’s significant in the sense that it sends the signal that there’s a renewed interest in the Philippines after the ‘86 People Power Revolution. In-invite po kasi ang dating Pangulong Corazon Aquino bilang guest din noon sa France,” deputy spokesperson Abigail valte said at a briefing. One of the agreements to be signed was a declaration of intent for a feasibility study on rice straw as fuel to generate electricity using organic rankine cycle technology. The grant, which aims to develop similar power stations in rural areas in the Philippines, amounts to 372,272 Euros, or roughly P20 million, according to Valte. Another agreement, this time finalizing the Philippine exhibition at the Musee Du Quai Branly in France, will also be signed by the two countries. More than 300 artifacts on pre-colonial will be featured in the museum's grand exhibition in Paris from April to July 2013. Other than the official state visit, Ayrault will also grace a Philippine-French Business Forum on Saturday. Valte said several French companies have expressed intent to take part in various Public-Private Partnership Projects. “Marami hong mga French companies—Lafarge, Total, Alcatel—have a strong presence in the country and likewise, meron pong mga French companies that have signified their intent to participate in the bidding for several PPP projects,” she said. “In terms of trade, medyo significant ‘yung increase. ‘Yung total bilateral trade po natin kasi with France noong 2011, umakyat to 1.143 billion dollars and French investments are up by 90 percent in 2011,” she added. — Patricia Denise Chiu/KBK