Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan assured Wednesday his government trusts Britain to honor their new bilateral trade deal although London is now keen to renegotiate part of its Brexit deal with the European Union.
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In an interview with AFP in Brussels, Dan Tehan also stressed that Canberra wanted to soften the climate of relations with France, furious at having seen canceled a mega-contract to sell conventional submarines to Australia in favor of sub - American nuclear navies.
Brussels was the penultimate stop on a tour that took Dan Tehan to Indonesia, India and the United Arab Emirates, then to OECD ministerial meetings in France and with his G20 counterparts in Italy.
On Thursday, he is due to travel to London to study and sign a bilateral free trade agreement between Australia and Britain that was announced in June.
Asked whether Britain will stick to this deal when it now wants to renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol reached as part of the 2019 Brexit deal with the EU , the Australian minister highlighted the historic ties between Australia and the United Kingdom.
“We of course have confidence in Britain regarding its treaties, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith with them,”
"We are dear, old friends."
Free trade agreement with the EU
Dan Tehan's Brussels step was initially supposed to include talks with EU officials over a free trade treaty Australia wants to conclude with the EU.
But the 12th round of these negotiations was postponed to November, after France expressed its anger after the announcement of the partnership concluded between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, dubbed AUKUS, which has de facto canceled a contract for the purchase of French submarines worth 55 billion euros with the Australians.
This feud brought Paris and Canberra to the brink of breaking up.
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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has so far been unable to have a conversation with President Emmanuel Macron on the matter and Dan Tehan has been ignored by his French counterpart while in Paris. The Australian minister considered
the return to Canberra of the French ambassador who had been recalled in September.
"We have made it clear that we are very keen to discuss and engage in dialogue with the French government,"
he said. He also indicated that talks on the EU-Australia trade deal were in their final stages and that he hoped to see it concluded by the end of 2022.
The UN climate conference COP26 to be held in Glasgow from October 31 could provide the opportunity for Australian leaders to discuss with European leaders.