France’s Macron headed for three-day Australia visit as ties strengthen

France’s Macron headed for three-day Australia visit as ties strengthen

France’s president will meet Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull today, part of a three-day tour expected to focus on trade and security. Today’s

Turnbull Macron

Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

France’s president will meet Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull today, part of a three-day tour expected to focus on trade and security.

Today’s visit is an opportunity for Australia to cement French support for an Australia-EU free trade agreement. Two-way trade between Australia and the EU accounts for $74 billion, second only to Australia’s trade with China.

For Canberra, the upsides of a deal includes access to Europe’s 510 million consumers, providing a GDP increase of up to $4.8 billion by 2030. The agricultural and services industry that account for 70% of Australia’s GDP would benefit the most. The benefits for Europe centre on Turnbull’s promotion of Australia as the launchpad for EU exporters into Asia.

The prospects for a deal are good given the support of EC president, Jean Claude Juncker, who wants the deal finalised by end of 2019. The prospects would be even better if Macron hops on board.

French support is crucial ahead of an EU leaders vote this month on whether to start negotiations. Macron’s support would be a key win for Canberra given traditional French agricultural sensitivities to competition from Australian beef imports.

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