136 Australian Delegation, Geneva, to Cabinet Sub-Committee on Trade and Employment Conference

Cablegram IT0279 (extract) GENEVA, 17 August 1947, 11.46 a.m.


Received 18 August 1947

Your T197 Stud Sheep Embargo. [1]

We moved in Commission yesterday to have word 'critical' removed from Article 25(2)(b). [2] We spoke of last drought and pointed out that when what might be a critical stage had passed the adverse effects lasted for a long time and that over such prolonged period we feared we would not be able to sustain claim that conditions were critical even though in our own judgment we thought we should continue the stud sheep embargo. Looking ahead we could not hope to escape further droughts and we wished to be free to decide when and to what degree embargoes were put on and taken off.

A good deal of sympathy was expressed with our argument but opposition to removal of word was definite the reasons given being:-

(a) That they considered wording was sufficient to protect us in circumstances described and (b) That if to meet our wishes they did agree to removal of word critical it would open a door through which undesirable practices might pass. The Chairman urged our withdrawal but we persisted and several additional members spoke. Finally Chairman said that it seemed to him that in the light of all opinions expressed (opinions in which he personally concurred) that our position was covered. Such opinions were recorded in minutes and [he] asked whether we insisted that he put question to a vote or would we not withdraw. There seemed no point in forcing a vote which would clearly have been strongly adverse so we said that in the light of assurances that had been given and recorded we would withdraw.

1 Cablegram 197, dispatched 29 July, disagreed that most Australian embargoes were protected by Article 37(J) as stated by the Delegation (see Document 123, note 2). It suggested ways to ensure minimum protection including, in the case of stud sheep, the omission of the word 'critical' from Article 25(2)(b).

2 The exception in paragraph 2(b) read: 'Export prohibitions or restrictions temporarily imposed to relieve critical shortages of food-stuffs or other essential products in the exporting country.'