France and Australia held in Paris the 2nd session of the bilateral dialogue on Trade and Investment on 21 April 2021. The dialogue was co-chaired by the French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Franck Riester, and the Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan.
The bilateral dialogue aims to further strengthen the economic relationship between France and Australia by deepening bilateral trade and boosting opportunities for investments in both countries. The first session of the dialogue was held in Adelaide in November 2019 during the official visit to Australia of French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Minister Tehan and Minister Riester welcomed the continuing development of our economic and trade relations, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two-way goods and services trade was worth $10.6 billion in 2019-20, with the balance being more than 3:1 in France’s favor. French stock of foreign direct investment in Australia amounted to $12.6 billion in 2019, while Australian stock of FDI in France was $3.8 billion in the same year. 600 French companies employing 70 000 workers are currently established in Australia and more than 140 Australian companies operate in France.
The Ministers reviewed bilateral trade investments and opportunities in strategic fields including critical minerals, renewable energy, hydrogen, space and agriculture. The Ministers discussed our two countries’ shared interests in ensuring secure, reliable and sustainable supply chains in critical minerals. They welcomed French companies’ significant investments in renewable energy and hydrogen in Australia and discussed options to further strengthen our cooperation in these areas. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the increasing linkages between our respective space industries and explored opportunities for further engagement and cooperation in agriculture.
France and Australia, as strategic partners, share a firm commitment to a rules-based international order and to the defence of the multilateral system. Both Ministers underlined the crucial role played by international trade towards the post-Covid-19 economic recovery. They shared their views on the global trade environment and recalled their support for multilateral institutions, and specifically the WTO, as a key to ensure rules-based governance of the international trade system.
The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the ongoing negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the European Union which provided an opportunity to boost mutual trade and further strengthen the relationship between both partners. This agreement should be balanced, mutually beneficial and respectful of the particular sensitivities of both parties.
Minister Tehan also met with Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian during his visit. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the enhanced strategic partnership between France and Australia, reflecting the shared understanding of the challenges faced by our two countries and our common desire to work together to confront them, including through our cooperation toward an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region.