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EU-Australia trade talks postponed amid submarine deal row

Australia last month canceled a deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and will instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology

SNS | Canberra |

Australia-EU free trade talks have been postponed on Friday amid Canberra’s decision to cancel a major French submarine contract. Australia’s Minister for Trade Dan Tehan said that talks with the European Union over a trade deal have been postponed, as a row over Canberra’s decision to cancel a USD 40-billion deal with France escalates, reported The Globe and Mail.

Australia last month canceled a deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and will instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership AUKUS with those two countries.

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

In solidarity with France, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has questioned whether the bloc could strike a trade deal with Australia.

Tehan on Friday declined to comment on the role the submarine deal had played in delaying negotiations but confirmed the 12th round of talks scheduled for October 12 had been postponed by a month, reported The Globe and Mail.

Tehan indicated he plans to meet EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis next week to discuss what would be the 12th round of negotiations. “We will continue preparing for the 12th round of negotiations and working towards concluding a free trade agreement that is in the interests of both Australia and the EU.”

The EU is Australia’s third-biggest trading partner.

In 2020, the trade in goods between the two economies was valued at 36 billion euros ($42.4 billion) and at 26 billion euros in services. The next round of talks was due to cover areas including trade, services, investment, and intellectual property rights.

(With ANI inputs)