133 Dedman to Chifley

Cablegram IT0272 GENEVA, 12 August 1947, 10.42 a.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE PERSONAL SECRET

Reference I.T.O.253 and I T.O.254.

1. I submit following for consideration of Cabinet.

2. After preliminary discussion in Tariff Agreement Committee it has become clear that a number of delegations find themselves in the same position as Australia and are unable to commit themselves to a signature in Geneva which will commit them to bring general agreement provisionally into force on a specified date. France, Canada, the United States have definitely expressed preparedness to sign agreement at close of Geneva meeting and the United Kingdom will probably agree also to do so.

3. The United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada have indicated privately that they are willing to see that we are not expected to accept any commitment here. This might be achieved by fixing a date ahead (say 21st November) for signature or by leaving agreement open for signature until such a date. In this case some initialling or signature might be necessary for authentication. This could for example be done [1] final act of the Conference which merely recited origins of meeting, the countries which took part in it and the fact that certain draft proposals have be prepared for consideration by Governments. These draft proposals could be identified as having been lodged with the Secretary-General of the United Nations pending considerations by respective Governments.

4. If the device of leaving agreement open for signature were used then those countries wishing to do so could sign in Geneva. We would merely have to indicate that we would reach a decision whether to sign or not before date agreed upon.

5. Subject to consideration of factors in Australia which we cannot assess I would recommend that we proceed on the following basis:-

(a) Initial or sign in Geneva only to extent necessary to authenticate the text.

(b) Agree to a final date not earlier than 21st November for signature. This means that Government before that date must decide whether or not it is prepared provisionally to accept and apply the agreement.

(c) Concur in arrangements worked out here provided that our requirements under (a) and (b) are met.

(d) Plan for complete examination of issues involved in tariff schedules and general agreement by Cabinet, Caucus, and to extent necessary by Parliament in time to enable signature by date fixed if decision is affirmative.

1 The text appears to be lacking a word or words here.

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