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Australia says UK can count on trade deal

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Australia’s trade minister confirms country’s plan to reopen international borders for Australia

Brussels, Belgium:

Australia’s trade minister Dan Tehan said on Wednesday that his government trusts Britain to keep its new trade deal, while London now seeks to renegotiate part of its Brexit treaty with the European Union.

He also insisted that Canberra wanted to smooth things over with Paris, France reacted furiously when the contract to supply submarines to Australia was torn down in favor of American-designed nuclear ones. Had it.

And Tehan – also Australia’s tourism minister – reaffirmed his country’s plans to finally reopen international borders to Australians and their families “before Christmas” as COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up.

Tehan spoke to AFP in an interview in Brussels, the final leg of an international tour that included official visits to Indonesia, India and the United Arab Emirates, then ministerial meetings at the OECD in France with G20 counterparts in Italy.

On Thursday, he is in London to examine and sign the 600-page Australian-British bilateral free trade agreement announced in June before returning home.

– ‘eager’ to speak French –

Asked whether he believed London would stand by that trade deal given its retaliation over the Northern Ireland part of the 2019 treaty with the European Union formalizing Brexit, Tehan said Emphasis on Australian-British historical relations.

“Well, of course we can count on Britain on her treaties and we will continue to negotiate with them in good faith,” he said.

“Obviously what the UK and the EU are going through is a big deal for them and I will leave commentary on that for others. But when it comes to Australia and the UK, we are dear friends, old friends Huh. “

Tehan’s stop in Brussels was originally meant to include talks with European Commission officials on a free trade agreement Australia seeks with the European Union.

But the 12th round of those talks was postponed until next month, when France denounced what it saw as a “stab in the back” over AUKUS and the canceled sub deal.

Since that row, France has been shelving Canberra.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has so far been unable to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron on the matter, and Tehan was similarly rebuked by his French business counterpart during his stay in Paris.

Tehan said it was “positive” that France’s ambassador to Australia, along with France’s top envoy to the US in September, was back after being recalled.

“We have made it very clear that we look forward to sitting down and engaging with the French government, and we will do so with these important issues that we need to continue discussing – and the EU-Australia FTA is One of them,” he said.

Those talks were almost at an “end-game” stage, he said, and he hoped a deal could be agreed “by the end of next year”.

– COP26 Summit –

One possible venue for Australia to meet some one-on-one with European leaders on trade and residual AUKUS issues is COP26, a United Nations summit on climate change to be held in the UK in two weeks’ time.

While Morrison has not committed to leaving, Tehan said Australia’s leaders “will make a decision in the coming days …

As Australians overseas seek to return to or travel to their home countries – a difficult feat currently given very limited flights, passenger caps and expensive hotel quarantines – Tehan said he hopes to “start by the end of November”. Will be able to do this more freely. , early December”.

The decision was linked to Australia’s vaccination rate against COVID, with the government aiming to ease travel restrictions when 80 percent of the population is fully immunized.

Currently, about 52 percent of Australia’s residents have two jobs, but the most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria have higher figures.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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