Sydney, Australia, Oct 1 (EFE).- Free trade agreement negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Australia have been postponed for a month after Canberra’s decision to cancel a French submarine deal, its trade minister said Friday.
“I will meet with my EU counterpart Valdis Dombrovskis next week to discuss the 12th negotiating round, which will now take place in November rather than October,” Dan Tehan said in a statement, which stressed that the free trade agreement “is in the interests of Australia and the European Union and will strengthen our relationship.”
The Australian minister also said that he understands “the French reaction to our submarine decision but ultimately any nation must act in its national interest – which is what Australia has done.”
Australia caused a diplomatic rift with France in mid-September by canceling the $66 billion agreement for the construction of 12 diesel-electric submarines shortly after announcing a security pact with the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS), which will provide Canberra with nuclear submarines.
On Sep. 21, the EU expressed its solidarity with France and raised its tone with the US for not communicating its plans for AUKUS, which aims to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region.
According to EU data, the bloc is Australia’s third-largest trading partner. EFE