234 Department of External Affairs to Legation in Washington

Cablegram 670 CANBERRA, 6 May 1946


Trade and Employment Proposals.

1. United States document on Procedure dated 6th February [1] suggested that the Government of each country should transmit to the Government of each other country from which it wishes to receive tariff concessions statements setting forth (1) a list of products on which it will request concessions of that country, and (2) the actual reductions or binding of tariff rates which it will plan to request in respect of such products.

2. The United States document also suggests that the list of the first kind might be sent in advance of the list of the second kind.

3. Our most immediate concern is that of eliciting preliminary information of the following nature in respect of each country attending the preliminary meeting:-

(a) Is it their intention to make requests on Australia? (b) If so, when may we expect to receive the two lists? (c) Can arrangements of either a formal or informal nature be made for the more or less immediate presentation of interim or partial lists to enable consideration of the requests to be commenced without delay? (d) In the case of the counter requests which may be made by Australia what customs area should the requests cover? (e) When are the Australian requests required and with whom should they be lodged either tentatively or finally? [2]

4. If the suggested procedural arrangements are to be observed it is imperative that we have knowledge of the requests to be made upon Australia at the earliest possible date so that we may begin their examination forthwith and complete it before our delegates have to leave Australia.

5. We have received no indication of the requests which U.S.A.

will make or is likely to make on Australia. We would appreciate whatever information is available regarding the position and also desire you to explore the possibility of obtaining even a tentative list formally or informally. In addition please establish definitely whether negotiations with respect to trade between Australia and Philippines are excluded from the preliminary meeting.

6. Cuba: Trade between Cuba and Australia is practically nonexistent. It is questionable whether a basis exists for Trade Agreement negotiations between Cuba and Australia. However, we are in doubt whether acceptance of U.S.A. invitation implies an obligation on the part of each acceptor to engage in bilateral negotiations with all other acceptors. The point of course loses its significance so far as Cuba is concerned if Cuba proposes making requests on Australia.

7. Please clear the point regarding the implications of our acceptance of the U.S. invitation.

8. In addition please contact the Cuban Embassy with object of ascertaining the views or intentions of the Cuban Government in relation to negotiations with Australia taking into consideration our most immediate needs as outlined in paragraph 3. [3]

1 A memorandum entitled Preparations for Preliminary International Meeting on Trade and Employment'.

2 Similar enquiries were made to other posts dealing with states listed as 'drafting countries' party to the preliminary negotiations to reduce trade barriers (see Document 68 and note 5 thereto).

3 A reply from the Legation on 13 May explained that bilateral negotiation would be necessary only when one or both countries had requests to make of the other, and that the question regarding Cuba had been referred to Havana. Lists of products to be negotiated should be submitted early (the U.S. list for Australia could be expected in about a month), but requests for specific deductions should be deferred until a time nearer the negotiations. Each customs area should be treated individually. As the Philippines would become independent on 4 July, it would not be one of the 'nuclear countries' involved in the negotiations.

[AA:A1067, ER46/1/3, ii]