Sydney to bid bonjour to President Macron

Lisa Martin

French President Emmanuel Macron's upcoming visit to Australia is unlikely to come with a side of dandruff diplomacy.

Macron jets into Sydney next week fresh from a trip to Washington DC where US President Donald Trump engaged in a spot of personal grooming during a picture opportunity in the Oval Office.

While Turnbull and Macron have also developed a solid bromance, their encounter is expected to be less touchy-feely.

Instead, they'll bond over geography and history.

Macron was born and raised in Amiens northern France, just down the road from Villers-Bretonneux, where Australian troops pulled off a stunning victory over invading German troops and in doing so, altered the course of World War I.

"France is one of our oldest and closest friends," Turnbull said ahead of the visit.

"This year especially we remember our nations' shared sacrifice in the trenches of the Western Front a century ago."

Turnbull was in France for Anzac Day to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux and open the $100 million Australian-funded Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian memorial.

More than 46,000 Australian diggers were killed on the Western Front and 11,000 remain missing.

Macron will pay his respects to Australia's war dead ahead of a bilateral meeting with the prime minister.

Their talks are expected to focus on modern defence and strategic issues including French firm Naval Group's contract to build Australia's new fleet of 12 submarines in Adelaide as well as growing Chinese influence in the South Pacific.

Last week, Turnbull sought a personal reassurance from Vanuatu that it would not allow the Chinese to build a military base there.

"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," Turnbull said.

Australia's commitment to climate change action and French resistance to a European Union-Australian free trade deal are likely to be pointy issues in bilateral discussions.

Australia committed to a carbon emissions reduction target of 26-28 per cents on 2005 levels at the Paris climate change talks in 2015.

But public debate on coal versus renewable energy has become toxic in recent years.

Meanwhile, the French farming lobby has been vocal against beef imports into the EU.

Australia and the European Union hope to fire the starter's gun on free trade negotiations by the middle of the year.

The EU parliament has granted the European Commission permission to begin negotiations, however, the 28 member states are yet to officially approve a mandate.

European-bloc is Australia's second-largest trading partner and largest source of foreign direct investment, with trade worth $99.5 billion.

Macron will travel to New Caledonia later in the week to rally support for the territory remaining part of France when residents go to a referendum in early November.

The Australian trip is Macron's first visit Down Under.

He hosted Mr Turnbull at the Elysee Palace in Paris last year.

Former President Hollande made a state visit to Australia in November 2014 in the lead-up to Australia hosting the G20 Summit.