Australia-EU free trade talks on hold until 2022 as France’s anger over AUKUS submarine deal continues


The European Union has postponed the next round of free trade talks with Australia for the second time amid latent anger over Canberra’s decision to cancel a $ 90 billion submarine contract with France.

Trade Minister Dan Tehan said the 12th round of negotiations with the EU was postponed for the second time this month, this time until February 2022.

The talks had previously been postponed for a month from mid-October.

“The European Union has informed the Australian government that the 12th round of FTA negotiations will now take place in February,” Tehan said in a statement to Reuters.

The European Commission, which oversees the European Union’s trade policy to 27 countries, said it had no plans to resume trade talks in November, without a new 12th round date set.

A mid-November round could have been tricky timing as it would have coincided with the end of global climate change talks in Scotland, with Brussels seeking larger commitments from Canberra on climate action under the commercial agreement.

Australia in September canceled an agreement with the French naval group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and will instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with American and British technology, after entering into a partnership of trilateral security called AUKUS with these two countries.

The cancellation angered France, which accused Australia and the United States of stabbing him in the back. Paris has recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington.

In solidarity with France, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asked if the bloc could strike a trade deal with Australia.

The new development comes just weeks after Mr Tehan told Reuters he expected to finalize a free trade deal with the EU by the end of next year.

Australia has sought to restore relations with the EU and France in recent weeks, appointing a senior aide to Prime Minister Scott Morrison as envoy to the bloc of 27 countries.

The French ambassador to Australia returned this week to Canberra, where he said he intended to assess Australia’s stated commitment to mend the ties.


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