THE Trade department said it is in talks with France for potential partnerships in nuclear energy and disaster management.

Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo met virtually with French Ministry of Economy and Finance Head of Bilateral Trade Relations Denis Le Fers on Dec. 17 to discuss areas of cooperation, which also included infrastructure, transportation, electronics, aerospace, renewable energy and agriculture, the Trade department said in a statement Monday.

No details of the talks were provided. France has a significant nuclear power industry, generating about 75% of its electricity from nuclear power plants, according to the World Nuclear Association, though the goal is to reduce this to 50% by 2035. The Philippines is close to making a decision on whether to include nuclear power into its energy mix.

The two economies have public and private sector partnerships for manufacturing in the electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding sectors.

“We have existing cooperation in key sectors in manufacturing and this enhances the trade relationship of Philippine suppliers with major French companies in the electronics and aerospace industries,” Mr. Rodolfo said.

“Equally important is that we also have cooperation that has led to the entry of French investment. The economic reforms we have put in place will further foster these synergies between our governments and businesses.”

The meeting, the department said, serves as a follow-up to the 8th Philippines-France Joint Economic Commission held last year. Both sides agreed to hold the 9th meeting next year.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez also held talks with French business association Mouvement des Entreprises de France in September.

France is one of 17 target markets for the government’s recently launched investment promotion campaign, which will focus on the automotive, aerospace, electronics, outsourcing, and copper/nickel sectors.

France is the second-largest source of approved foreign investment from the European Union this year, the Trade department said. Projects include the HyStar hydrogen optimization facility partnership between Air Liquide Philippines and Pilipinas Shell Corp.

France was the Philippines’ 18th largest source of imports last year, with goods valued at $1.3 billion, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. France was also the 14th biggest destination of Philippine products last year, with exports valued at $798 million. —  Jenina P. Ibañez