Canberra: The European Union has postponed for a month the 12th round of negotiations on a free trade agreement with Australia amid the diplomatic row over the US submarine contract with Australia under the recently-established AUKUS alliance.
In mid-September, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia declared the formation of AUKUS as a platform for defense and security cooperation. The announcement came as Canberra unilaterally withdrew from the $66 billion agreement on submarines with France in favor of the supply of vehicles within the framework of the alliance. This move triggered a harsh reaction from France and the EU.
According to the Australian Financial Review newspaper, the 12th round of talks was scheduled for October but will be held in November at the EU initiative.
The European Union has not explained official reasons for the delay but one of the European observers close to the negotiations told the newspaper that the postponement was related to the submarines issue.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan, who left for Europe to hold talks with his EU counterpart, Valdis Dombrovskis, has called on the bloc to continue negotiations on a free trade agreement.