Australia and France are all set to begin a 50-year economic partnership with the contract to build a fleet of 12 submarines for Australia. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met his French counterpart Manuel Valls in Canberra on Monday to discuss details of the submarine deal.
Last week, France won Australia’s largest ever defense contract, ensuring the beginning of a new era of Australia-France partnership. French industrial group DCNS will design and construct a fleet of 12 submarines for Australia at the cost of $50 billion to replace the current Collins class vessels. Valls told reporters that the decision on the submarine deal has taken the strategic relationship between France and Australia to another level.
“It is a partnership that binds us for a very long time – 50 years at least,” The Australian quoted him as saying. “In the coming months, we’ll be working with the Australian authorities to fix all the details of our partnership … (and) conclude this contract as soon as possible.” He added that he would personally oversee the proceeding to ensure that the French commitments are met. Valls said that the contrary to some reports which suggested that the first submarines would be built in France, the basis of the contract all of the vessels would be built in Australia, Sky News reported.
Turnbull reiterated on the strong ties that the two countries share as he welcomed Valls. However, he denied any possibility of making the submarines nuclear powered.
Valls said that France will honour its commitment to generating jobs in Australia as well as by transferring technology and infrastructure. He also said he was in New Zealand when the announcement was made by Australia and that another trip Down Under was already postponed earlier this year.
“The political life in Australia meant that unfortunately we could not postpone this meeting,” he said, referring to the possibility of Turnbull calling an election shortly.