Australian trade min seeks French meeting, confident subs row won’t derail EU talks By Reuters
By Colin Packham
CANBERRA (Reuters) -Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said on Monday he will seek a meeting with his French counterpart to ease tensions over Canberra’s decision to scrap a $40 billion submarine deal.
Australia said last week it was ending the agreement with France’s Naval Group, which would have allowed for a fleet of traditional submarines. It would instead create at least eight submarines powered by U.S. or British technology. The three countries had previously formed a trilateral partnership.
France was furious and declared that it is in trouble with the United States and Australia. The French ambassadors were also sent back, fuelling fears about Australia’s offer to free trade with Europe.
Tehan stated that while he was positive the disagreement would not spread and affect trade, he said that he would try to arrange a meeting with France’s counterpart in Paris for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting.
Tehan stated that he would be keen to meet with his French counterpart during the time he is in France for an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting.
On Oct. 12, Australian and EU officials will hold the next round of trade negotiations.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison heads to Washington later in the week for talks on a trade deal, Australia-France bilateral tensions are expected.
France is the biggest critic of Australia’s defense deal. However, China has condemned the trilateral agreement. China was the one that led to Australia building a new fleet submarines.
Australia’s relations have been deteriorating with China over the past two-years since Huawei, the Chinese tech company banned, was barred from its 5G broadband network. Australia called for an investigation into the origins and source of this coronavirus.
China has blocked imports of Australian products and stopped ministerial communication.
Tehan indicated that China will need to work with Australia if they want to become a part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
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