Australia’s Commerce Minister Dan Tehan mentioned on Wednesday his authorities trusts Britain to uphold their new commerce pact regardless of London now desirous to renegotiate a part of its Brexit treaty with the EU.
He additionally emphasised that Canberra desires to easy issues over with Paris after the AUKUS row that noticed France react furiously when its contract to produce submarines to Australia was torn up in favour of American-designed nuclear ones.
And Tehan — additionally Australia’s minister for tourism — reaffirmed his nation’s plans to lastly reopen worldwide borders to Australians and their households overseas “earlier than Christmas” as Covid-19 vaccinations speed up.
Tehan spoke to AFP in an interview in Brussels, the penultimate leg of a worldwide tour comprising official visits to Indonesia, India and the United Arab Emirates, then ministerial conferences on the OECD in France with G20 counterparts in Italy.
On Thursday, he’s due in London to scrutinise and signal a 600-page Australian-British bilateral free commerce settlement introduced in June earlier than he returns residence.
– ‘Eager’ to talk to the French –
Requested if he believed London would stand by that commerce accord given its remonstrations over the Northern Eire a part of its 2019 treaty with the EU formalising Brexit, Tehan confused Australian-British historic ties.
“Effectively, in fact we will belief the UK on its treaties and we are going to proceed on negotiating in good religion with them,” he mentioned.
“Clearly what the UK and the EU are going via, that is very a lot a matter for them and I am going to go away the commentary on that for others. However in the case of Australia and the UK, we’re pricey pals, previous pals.”
Tehan’s cease in Brussels was initially meant to incorporate talks with European Fee officers on a free commerce pact Australia desires with the European Union.
However the twelfth spherical of these negotiations was postponed till subsequent month, after France denounced what it noticed as a “stab within the again” over AUKUS and the cancelled sub deal.
France has been cold-shouldering Canberra since that row.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has up to now been unable to talk with French President Emmanuel Macron on the matter, and Tehan was likewise snubbed by his French commerce counterpart when he was in Paris.
Tehan mentioned it was “optimistic” that France’s ambassador to Australia was again after being recalled, together with France’s high envoy to the US, in September.
“We have made it very clear we’re very eager to take a seat down and interact with the French authorities, and we’ll do this with these essential points that we have to proceed to debate — and the EU-Australia FTA is certainly one of them,” he mentioned.
These talks have been almost on the “end-game” stage, he mentioned, and he anticipated a pact may very well be agreed “hopefully by the top of subsequent yr”.
– COP26 summit –
A potential venue for Australia to get some face-time with European leaders on the commerce and residual AUKUS points is the COP26, a UN summit on containing local weather change being held in Britain in two weeks’ time.
Whereas Morrison has not dedicated to going, Tehan mentioned that Australia’s chief “will decide over the approaching days… however he’s of a thoughts, I believe, to need to attend”.
As for Australians overseas desirous to return or go to their nation — a troublesome feat at present given very restricted flights, passenger caps and dear resort quarantine — Tehan mentioned he hoped they’d find a way to take action extra freely from “across the finish of November, starting of December”.
The choice was tied to Australia’s vaccination charge towards Covid, with the federal government aiming to ease journey restrictions when 80 p.c of the inhabitants is totally immunised.
At the moment, round 52 p.c of Australia’s residents have had two jabs, however probably the most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria have increased figures.
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