Trade, climate on Hollande visit agendaOn 01/31/2019 by admin
Australia will seek a free trade agreement with the European Union, as Tony Abbott pledged to take a “strong and effective” plan to the 2015 climate summit in Paris.
The prime minister set out his ambition to secure a free trade deal with Europe “quicker than people think” after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Canberra on Wednesday.
Mr Hollande, the first French head of state to visit Australia, also paid an emotional tribute during a visit to the War Memorial to soldiers who died in World War I.
“Everyone wants to get these things done more quickly because all of us appreciate that trade means jobs, trade means prosperity, trade ultimately means security,” Mr Abbott told reporters after the meeting.
Mr Hollande said it was important to be able to trade freely with Australia because it would give European exporters access to the wider Asian market.
It was also very important for Australia to be present in Europe and third party markets.
“I’m thinking here of Africa, for instance,” Mr Hollande said.
Formal talks on a framework agreement started in October 2011 under the Gillard government and are continuing.
The EU, with its 28 member states, 500 million people and annual economic activity of almost $18 trillion is the world’s largest economy.
The two leaders also discussed next year’s UN climate summit where new targets will be set for cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020.
During the past week of leader visits and the G20 summit in Brisbane, a number of countries committed financial support to the UN’s Green Climate Fund designed to help poor countries.
But the Australian government is still considering its position.
Europe last month agreed to cut greenhouse emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 and achieve 27 per cent of power generated by renewables by the same date.
Mr Hollande said he wanted any agreement from next year’s Paris talks to be legally binding and linked to the Green Climate Fund.
He hoped quite a number of countries would follow Europe in not waiting until the last minute to announce their plans.
Mr Abbott said he wanted “strong and effective outcomes” from the conference.
Australia would reach its existing target of cutting emissions by five per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 but it would not be done “in ways which cost jobs”.
“What’s important is that the agreement is strong and effective and that the targets are met,” he said.
The prime minister said Australia would consider what more it could do in terms of the global fund, noting his government had introduced a $2.5 billion emissions reduction fund and was providing aid to small Pacific nations for climate mitigation.
The governments have also opened talks on returning indigenous remains from French public collections to their communities of origin.