Europe slows, India speeds up trade talks with Australia

“We have agreed to ensure that we conclude the Australia-India Free Trade Agreement by the end of 2022 and an early harvest trade deal by Christmas this year,” said Mr Tehan.

“Before the final free trade agreement, India and Australia [have] an interim agreement by December 2021. We have started discussing issues of logistics, country of origin.”

Australian officials expected the slowdown in EU trade talks in the wake of the submarine decision, which abruptly canceled a contract with French company Naval Group in favor of nuclear submarines from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Mr Tehan will arrive in Paris in the coming days for meetings at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and had not expected a face-to-face meeting with his French counterpart Franck Riester.

Mr Tehan will meet with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, a former Latvian Prime Minister, but the meeting will not formally start the next round of trade talks.

The trade minister confirmed that negotiations would begin in November rather than in October as planned.

“We understand the French reaction to our submarine decision, but ultimately every country must act in its national interest, and that is what Australia has done,” he said in a statement.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Simon Birmingham, who was trade minister from 2018 to 2020, downplayed the impact on the overall deal.

“These negotiations have been going on for a number of years, and they may have some time to go in the future,” he told Sky News.

“A time of a month, relative to what I think is… quite a road in the negotiating rounds, well, that’s clearly not something that’s likely to change the end result that much.”

Labor Foreign Office spokeswoman Penny Wong and spokeswoman Madeleine King said the delay in Europe was a sign of the government’s diplomatic failure with France over the submarine contract.

“Clearly Scott Morrison has not done the diplomatic work necessary to manage the relationship with our French partners,” they said.

“As a result, Commerce Minister Dan Tehan had already been refused a meeting with his French counterpart and has now been banned from talks with the Europeans – embarrassingly on the flight to Brussels.

“Mr Morrison’s idea of ​​diplomacy was a text message to” [French President Emmanuel Macron] dumping the $90 billion future submarine program before it is publicly announced.”

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