126 Dedman to Chifley

Cablegram IT0253 GENEVA, 3 August 1947, 11.05 a.m.


1. Wool.

I saw Clayton this morning but they are still not in a position to talk. Clayton was very apologetic for delay but explained that for policy [1] they should be in position to state that no decision had been made to reduce tariff on wool. They were ready with proposals for President's approval on the day the bill passed [2] but by this time President had left Washington because of death of his mother. He returned only Wednesday and has now to deal with over 200 bills which received Congressional approval in last few days of Session. These must be signed or vetoed within ten days of passage. Repeated attempts to see President have failed but they anticipate decision on Monday. In meantime Clayton must return to Paris for further discussions relating to Marshall plan but will be in Geneva again on Wednesday and we have arranged meet Wednesday night.

I emphasised bad effects of continued delays on political reactions in Australia but in circumstances there seems no alternative but to put up with further delays.

2. General Agreement.

I am grateful for your G75 22nd July. We have today despatched long telegram dealing with the mechanics relating to General Agreement. I have been giving very close personal attention to this problem. Unfortunately there has not yet been a discussion of the agreement by the committee and we do not know views of all other countries. I have however arranged that these discussions should commence Monday and after that we will be able send comments on position taken by other members.

Timetable for tariff negotiations will be examined on Monday. It seems certain that the conference will accept the inevitable that the negotiations will not conclude on 15th. Probably 15th September will be the date with a further fortnight for tidying up. Even this estimate is not justified by present rate of negotiations but developments with United States may expedite the work.

We have refrained from detailed comment on content of the agreement until we have studied it further and we know attitude of other countries. I thought you would wish consider separately the urgent question of the possible programme in Australia and its effect upon our attitude here to the agreement.

3. United Kingdom - United States discussions.

We have been advised of the progress of discussions between United Kingdom and United States on European and the United Kingdom economic difficulties including United Kingdom decision that unless the preparatory agreement permits discrimination they will be unable accept it and suggestion the agreement might be initialled ad referendum and even provisional operation deferred until economic situation becomes clearer.

I understand you have been informed of the substance of these discussions. My latest advice is that during the discussions between Cripps and Clayton in London it was provisionally agreed (A) That Clayton would urge United States to accept the addition of a protocol to the general agreement by which the operation of the non-discriminatory clauses would be deferred until the Marshall plan had had time to take effect on the European and United Kingdom economic situation. (B) That the United Kingdom would sign the general agreement at Geneva and operate the tariff schedules and general agreement provisionally from 1st January.

We have made clear to United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries our difficulties with regard to signature and further discussions will take place on this and other aspects of general agreement.

I am booked leave London by Lancastrian 17th August.

1 A sign here indicates 'small Portion omitted'.

2 26 July.

[AA : A1068, ER47/1/28, ii]