France Backs Airbus' Philippine Plan

MANILA, Philippines - The French government has vowed to bring some operations of Airbus and its parts and components suppliers to the Philippines in its strong support for the government's bid to further strengthen the country's existing capability as aircraft components manufacturing hub.

Hubert Testard, deputy minister and counselor for economics and finance affairs of the French embassy in Singapore, has informed Trade and Industry Undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio in a phone call.

According to Panlilio, Mr. Testard has assured Panlilio that Airbus, the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer based in France, is going to send a delegation of its parts and components suppliers here to pursue such possibilities.

"France is helping us get the Airbus and its suppliers to put up operations here for export back to France," Panlilio said.

Panlilio has been courting Airbus and Boeing, the world's two biggest aircraft manufacturers, to explore sourcing aircraft parts and components here.

Panlilio cited that most of the electronics firms in the country are suppliers of aviation companies of the world.

"We are tapping manufacturers and assemblers of aircraft components to enhance their operations here," Panlilio said in an earlier interview.

He noted that many of the country's electronic products are already supplying the aviation industry.

Texas Instruments even supplies instrumentation parts for Boeing and Airbus. There are probably 100,000 parts in the Boeing plane from switches, wire harness and motors.

"We have the capability. We are helping to grow that business for more exports to America. We are talking to those who are expanding their business here and the new suppliers. We are talking to aircraft an electronics instrumentation of airplanes," Panlilio said.

Aside from the electronics companies, there are three major aircrafts components manufacturers in the country, including MOOGS in Baguio Economic Zone and another British firm that makes galley fixtures.

Panlilio started wooing Boeing to encourage its aircraft components suppliers to locate in the country as most of the electronics firms operating here are already supplying the world's major aviation companies.

Panlilio was able to meet with Boeing officials during an investment mission to four cities in the U.S. including Seattle, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles last year.

"We met Boeing when we were there because we want to get their parts suppliers from Asia to invest here. We want them to get a shortlist of their Asian components suppliers. It is their suppliers that we are inviting to come over to set up shop here in the hope that they will be able to reduce their cost and in the end Boeing benefits," Panlilio said.

Some of Boeing's components suppliers in Asia are in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore.

Aside from Airbus and Boeing, Panlilio also met with the Taiwanese-owned Air Asia is looking at the Philippines for the expansion of its aircraft maintenance operation.

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