A free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union is now on the cards thanks to the federal government’s commitment to tackle climate change, the French ambassador says.
While such a deal is unlikely to be signed before 2023, the new Australian government’s approach has been welcomed by members of the EU.
Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault describes the relationship under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as “a complete new arena of cooperation between France and Australia”.
He welcomed Australia’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
“Let’s be frank, with the previous commitment of Australia it was highly unlikely that the European Union would ever have given the green light to a free trade agreement,” the diplomat told ABC radio on Monday.
“Now this is back on the table and the fact that Australia has strongly committed on this issue is a game changer.”
The ambassador expects announcements on the France-Australia alliance to be made in coming months, especially in relation to security arrangements in the Indo-Pacific region.
He said Australia and France would conduct more joint military exercises in the Pacific.
“The challenges in the Indo-Pacific … need two countries which have close values, which have the experience of cooperating (and) need both of us to be more engaged than ever, ” he said.
“We want to use our assets … to cooperate with our close allies and make a free, open and safe Pacific.”
Mr Albanese is set to return to Australia following a visit to Madrid, Paris and Ukraine.