Australia says EU delays trade talks for second time By Reuters – News Couple

Australia says EU delays trade talks for second time By Reuters

Written by Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – The European Union has postponed the next round of talks on a possible free trade deal for a second time, Australia’s trade minister said, amid outrage over Canberra’s decision to cancel a $40 billion contract with France.

European Union officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Australia in September 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 using US and British technology, after forging a trilateral security partnership called AUKUS with those two countries.

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

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

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said that for the second time this month, the 12th round of talks with the EU had been postponed, this time until February 2022. The talks had previously been postponed for a month until November.

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

The development comes just weeks after Tehan told Reuters he expects to finalize a free trade agreement with the European Union by the end of next year.

Australia has sought to mend ties with the European Union and France in recent weeks, appointing a top aide to Prime Minister Scott Morrison as envoy to the 27-nation bloc.

The French ambassador to Australia returned this week to Canberra, where he said he intends to assess Australia’s stated commitment to repairing relations.

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