Paris can no longer trust Australia in ongoing negotiations on a trade deal between Canberra and the EU now that the former has decided to suddenly terminate the contract for buying French submarines, France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune has stated.
“We’re having trade negotiations with Australia. I don’t see how we can trust our Australian partners”.
Australia has been in talks to sign an agreement with the European Union, its biggest trading partner, since 2018 having gone through 11 rounds of talks. The next one is due to take place this autumn and is supposed to cover issues of trade, services, investment, and intellectual property rights.
However, now the progress in negotiations, led by the European Commission, is in question since Canberra chose to ditch the $90-billion contract with the partly state-owned French company Naval Group to build 12 conventionally powered submarines based on Barracuda nuclear-powered subs.
Canberra announced the move soon after the US, the UK, and Australia proclaimed the creation of a new military alliance dubbed AUKUS to operate in the Indo-Pacific region. Under this new union, the US agreed to sell Australia nuclear-powered submarines.
France condemned Australia’s move to abandon the 2016 sub deal, calling it a “stab in the back”. Paris also reportedly called off a gala event that was supposed to be held by the French Embassy in Washington and signify strong ties between the two NATO partners.