Emmanuel Macron to visit Australia in May to discuss trade, submarine program

By on
French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 23, 2017. Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

French President Emmanuel Macron will be on a three-day trip to Australia in May. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the news on Wednesday, saying the visit will focus on negotiations for an Australia-EU free trade deal and Australia’s $50 billion submarine program being built by French company Naval Group.

“We will also discuss the next steps toward launching negotiations of an Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement, which will embody our commitment to open markets and a liberal rules-based trading system, while significantly strengthening our trade and investment ties,” Turnbull added, according to The New Daily.

The Australian leader said that France is one of his country’s “oldest and closest friends.” He added it is important the two nations continue on this path.

Turnbull noted that this year marks 100 years since the end of World War I, where the two countries fought alongside each other. “In a time of uncertainty and persistent challenges to the international rules based order to which both our countries are firmly committed, we must continue to work together to address global challenges and create opportunity for the prosperity of our people,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that post-Brexit will be filled with opportunities for Australia to build deeper economic ties with several European countries. She added that Australia and France already have a deep connection, and it is an opportunity to further deepen security and economic ties.

Bishop cited the defence industry, in which the two countries are working very closely on the submarine project. She said there are other opportunities.

Macron recently appeared in a news conference with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. They dined together last week at Paris’s Louvre museum after arriving for a three-day visit.

The French president confirmed that Saudi Arabia is a key ally of France. Saudi Gazette reports that he has agreed with the crown prince to issue a strategic document before the year ends.

Macron defended French weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen but expressed concerns for the humanitarian situation. He said he would host a conference on the issue. When asked regarding civilian casualties, Prince Mohammed said the coalition is doing everything to avoid civilian casualties.

Macron’s trip to Australia will start on May 1. It will be his first visit to Down Under since the French president came to power. He has vowed to unite France following his victory in his country’s presidential election.