65 Watt to Dunk

Cablegram P149 CANBERRA, 13 August 1946

PERSONAL SECRET

Please see report of Washington telegram No 1107 to Canberra re F.A.0. 'Proposals for a World Food Board' contained in P.154. [1]

2. A note has been received from the United States Government' indicating its disapproval of the Orr plan and affirming:

(a) international collaborative action of United Nations is required and represents soundest approach.

(b) Copenhagen conference should analyse alternative proposals and prepare plan of international action for coping with problems. No action should be taken at this session which prejudices the work of the Committee.

(c) The Committee recommended by the Director-General should submit its report to him not later than 31st December, 1946, and the Director-General should bring the report to the attention of the member nations of F.A.0. and to the Economic [and] Social Council of the United [Nations] at the earliest possible date.

3. Initial reaction here is favourable to full exploration of Orr plan which promises to be in interests of big exporters of agricultural products like Australia, though considerable modification may be necessary. Our impression is that the basis of United States objection is partially ideological and partially the concern of the United States farm bloc for high prices. The plan would tend to limit freely competitive market conditions which almost inevitably entails United States hostility. The United States alternative seems designed to defeat effective action by F.A.0. which is the competent organ of United Nations in this field.

4. Full F.A.0. proposals will need careful study but may not arrive in time for suitable instructions to Australian delegation.

In view of United States opposition strenuous efforts may be needed at Copenhagen to ensure proper consideration of Orr plan.

5. Our tentative Departmental view is that Orr proposals should be supported in principle (subject to detailed examination) and that Australia should seek election to the Committee proposed by F.A.0.

6. Would appreciate your comments. [3]

7. Re your 138. [4] According to F.A.0. Constitution it is necessary to lodge credentials with Director-General fifteen days before opening date of conference. This rule may not be rigid but we are arranging credentials for Walker, in the hope that he will be able to attend.

8. Suggest you consider practicability of providing a Secretary for the delegation at about Third Secretary status? Such services are deemed essential by those who attended first meeting of F.A.0.

last year.

1 The cablegrams (dispatched 9 and 13 August respectively) summarised proposals published by F.A.0. for long-term machinery to stabilise food supplies and commodity prices. Functions proposed for the World Food Board included establishment of emergency food reserves, purchase (financed by a revolving fund) of stocks at low prices for resale when prices rose, disposal of surpluses to needy countries at special rates, negotiation of export quotas if necessary, supply of long-term credits, possibly through the International Bank, for development of agriculture and industry. The proposals were to be submitted to the F.A.0.

Conference in Copenhagen for approval in principle and for appointment of a committee of representatives of UP to 15 governments and international organisations to report on a specific plan by 31 December.

2 From the U.S. Legation in Canberra. Dated 12 August.

3 Dunk responded, in cablegram 154 dispatched from Paris 16 August, that in his view the plan was overambitious and hasty, the financial arrangements too vague, and that F.A.O.'s immediate task should be establishment of a sound organisation. He considered the plan politically dangerous for Australia without safeguards against exploitation by consuming countries and added that the proposal should not be considered in isolation from proposals for an international trade organisation.

4 Watt had believed that the Australian delegation to the F.A.0.

Conference, commencing on 2 September, should include a representative with economic and international expertise, and had suggested Walker attend. In cablegram 138, dispatched 9 August, Dunk agreed but, as Walker was overburdened with conference work, asked whether a decision might be deferred.

[AA:A1067, ER46/4/16]