ROME, Oct 8 (Businesshala) – Australia’s Trade Minister Dan Tehan said on Friday he expected to finalize a free trade deal with the European Union by the end of next year, following Canberra’s signing of a submarine contract with France. Despite EU anger over the cancellation.
Brussels postponed the latest round of talks, which were due to start on 12 October, until November in solidarity with France after Australia scrapped a multi-billion dollar deal that Paris called its Indo-Pacific policy. was considered the cornerstone.
Instead, it secretly negotiated the construction of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology as part of a tripartite security agreement between the three countries announced last month.
Tehan, in Italy for a meeting of the Group of 20 developed countries, told Businesshala in an interview that he was not concerned by delays in talks, and that reaching an agreement was strongly in the interests of both sides.
Asked when it will be finalized, he said: “I suggest the end of the game may take some time and we are looking forward to ending the talks at the end of next year.”
He downplayed the damage to EU-Australian relations over the submarine dispute, and said he had “very good discussions” with seven EU ministers at a meeting this week of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.
It would be more difficult to mend ties with France, which described Australia’s actions in walking away from the naval deal as a “stab in the back” and has so far rejected any talks to patch things up.
Tehan said Australia had issued an open for France.
“The most important thing is that we sit down so that Australia can fully explain the decision we took because it was in our national interest,” he said.
France said on 6 October that it would send its ambassador back to Australia to help redefine ties after recalling him for consultations in protest.
Turning to the environment, Tehan shrugged off criticism of Australia for not preparing updated targets for reducing carbon emissions ahead of next month’s UN climate talks, COP 26, in Glasgow.
He added that the plan Canberra presented in Glasgow to “hopefully” achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 was more detailed than many countries that had ambitious targets, but did not fully achieve it. Told how they would get them.
Tehan said Australia is emphasizing the major contribution of agricultural subsidies to carbon emissions addressed by the G20 and the World Trade Organization.
He said agriculture and land use accounted for 25% of emissions and believed it would be impossible for countries to meet the climate targets of the Paris Agreement unless the question was addressed.
“So we are at the forefront of moving to action when it comes to issues that will help us mitigate climate change,” he said.
($1 = 0.8654 Euro)