FPTPEC held its annual general meeting in Paris chaired by its President, Mr. Michel Rochard. About 50 individuals from business, academic, and government sectors participated. Apart from presentations on the ongoing projects of PECC and the new project on ports and shipping proposed by FPTPEC ("The Blue Economy, Future of Port Management and Shipping in the Asia-Pacific"), two presentations were delivered by: Ambassador Christian Lechervy, Permanent Secretary for the Pacific in regards to security in the Asia-Pacific, and the other by Mr. Olivier Barrat, who is in charge of Oceania at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on economic cooperation and commercial objectives of the French diplomatic activities in the Asia-Pacific.
Ambassador Lechervy pointed out that French presence in the Pacific area dates back to more than 200 years ago, explaining the continued interests and concerns of the French government in the protection of maritime environment of its island territories. France has concluded a number of strategic alliances with partners in the area over the past 15 years and these agreements are reinforced by diplomatic consultations on defense, bilaterally and regionally, with the aim of coordinating multilateral efforts to protect maritime routes and help island states protect their exclusive economic zones. This also includes scientific cooperation to mitigate challenges from natural disasters through early warning systems.
Mr. Barrat has underlined that intra-Asia trade has grown fast over the past two decades, representing 60% of trade for the region in 2014, in comparison to 37% intra-regional trade in North America and 75% in Europe. This reflects lessening importance for Asia of demand from Europe and America in recent years. Efforts underway such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and EU's trade negotiations ongoing since 2007 with the ASEAN economies are hoped to help boost demand from Asia. There are significant challenges and opportunities ahead for Asia including an estimated population increase of 1 billion by 2050, the rise of middle class, further urbanization and development of megacities, growing urban-rural development gap, environmental degradation, and issues about food safety and security.