Bonus harian di Keluaran HK 2020 – 2021.

SYDNEY/BRUSSELS — The European Union has postponed its free trade talks with Australia, signaling that tensions remained high after Canberra’s decision to cancel a $40 billion submarine contract with France.  

The Australian government said Friday that talks with Brussels scheduled for mid-October have now been pushed back to November, although it stressed that the process will continue.

The move comes two weeks after Canberra formed a new defense partnership with the U.S. and the U.K. called AUKUS, which led to the cancelation of the large-scale submarine deal with France.

The secretive AUKUS deal, which will allow Australia to acquire U.S. and U.K. technology for nuclear-powered submarines — an upgrade from the Fench conventional submarines — infuriated Paris. Brussels likely decided that time was needed for these tensions to cool.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said he is set to meet with EU counterpart Valdis Dombrovskis next week. “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,” Tehan said.

The postponement of the trade talks may make it difficult to sign a deal by year-end as the two sides had hoped.

With a French presidential election coming next spring, Paris cannot readily back down from its hardline stance because of public opinion. 

The negotiations have assumed greater importance for Canberra as its relationship with Beijing deteriorates. China buys more than 30% of Australia’s exports but has been imposing trade barriers such as high tariffs on agricultural products.

A deal with the EU, which accounted for less than 4% of Australia’s exports last year at 17 billion Australian dollars ($12.3 billion), would give Canberra a much-needed opportunity to diversify.

The relationship is valuable for Brussels as well. The EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy released in September calls for building stronger ties with partners that share values including democracy and human rights.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he tried to phone French President Emmanuel Macron the night before the sub decision was announced, but the call went unanswered, according to Australian media.

“I directly messaged him Australia’s decision in a personal correspondence,” Morrison said.

Paris recalled its ambassadors to Australia and the U.S., and the envoy to Canberra has yet to return to his posting.

“We had built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said following the cancellation. 

The problem for Brussels was “the way in which it was done rather than [the] deal itself,” said Herve Lemahieu at the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank. “We will never be able to restore the level of trust that the French had in us” prior to the AUKUS deal.

“We have to display or illustrate to the Europeans that we see them as more than just a big market for our trade, but we respect them as a strategic actor in the Indo-Pacific in their own right,” he said.