499 Mr Cordell Hull, U.S. Secretary of State, to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

Letter WASHINGTON, 11 June 1941

I have the honor to refer to a note of May 16, 1941, sent to me by the British Ambassador [1] regarding the possibility of negotiating a supplementary trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom. It is understood that a copy of this note has been transmitted to your Government. [2]

I share the view expressed in the Ambassador's note that a series of agreements between the United States and various British Empire Governments, on the lines proposed, would make a contribution of vital significance not only to the solution of some of the difficulties created by the war but also to the reconstruction of world trade on a sound and liberal basis. I feel strongly that if world trade is to be reconstructed on a sound basis, the fundamental problems must be attacked now while circumstances are perhaps uniquely favorable for a reasonable solution. Furthermore, it is believed a trade agreement between the United States and Australia could, in itself, provide important benefits to both our countries.

This Government envisages discussions between the United States and the various British Empire Governments along the lines of those which culminated in I 938 in trade agreements between the United States and the United Kingdom and between the United States and Canada. It appears, however, that it would be inadvisable to undertake formal negotiations for a trade agreement between the United States and Australia prior to a detailed confidential examination of questions bearing on the practical feasibility of successful negotiations. Under present circumstances, it would be particularly undesirable to commence formal negotiations without the maximum possible assurance that such negotiations would be concluded successfully in the shortest possible time. I should also mention that United States trade-agreement procedure requires that public notice be given of intention to negotiate and that an opportunity be given all interested parties to express their views in writing and at public hearings prior to the undertaking of any formal negotiations or any definitive commitments. While exploratory talks would naturally have to be on an ad referendum basis so as to insure that the highest quarters in both Governments are in agreement with the possible contents of a trade agreement, and also in order to conform with procedure required in the United States, I feel certain that both our Governments would be in a better position to judge the situation after exploratory talks had reduced the generalities involved into comparatively definite terms.

This Government has already begun the necessary statistical and other work in preparation for such detailed exploratory discussions and hopes that the Government of Australia, if it is favorably inclined toward the general project, will initiate without delay such similar preparatory work as it considers necessary. It is hoped that at the appropriate time your Government will find it convenient to designate officials to carry on the proposed exploratory discussions at Washington.

For your information, notes similar to this are being sent at once to the Governments of New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.

Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.


1 Lord Halifax.

2 On file AA: A3300, 186.

[AA: A3300, 186]