565 Burton to Legation in Nanking

Memorandum 169 CANBERRA, 26 May 1947


The Official Secretary to the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canberra has advised that the composition of the United Kingdom delegation to the June meeting [1] of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East will be as follows:

Sir Andrew Clow (until recently Governor of Assam) Mr. P.J. Stent (Adviser) Mr. Benham (Economic Adviser to the Governor-General of the Malayan Union) Dr. Clyde (Adviser).

2. The Official Secretary has also advised confidentially that the United Kingdom Government consider that there will be a strong and natural desire for an Asiatic Chairman of the Commission and they are, therefore, exploring the possibility of an Indian or Chinese Chairman, preferably the former. If suitable Indian or Chinese candidates are unavailable and other delegates propose an Australian Chairman, the United Kingdom would support our candidature.

3. Selection of Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur naturally depends on the selection of the Chairman. However, for the office of Rapporteur the United Kingdom considers that a British Commonwealth or Netherlands candidate would be appropriate, if it is eventually decided that such a post is necessary.

4. The United Kingdom has no candidate for the post of Executive Secretary. They feel strongly, however, that in the interests of the efficiency of the Commission, a practical, hard-working, non- Asiatic Secretary should be appointed. The United Kingdom authorities hope that it may be possible for the United States, Netherlands or Australian Governments to provide suitable candidates.

5. Our view is that Australia should obtain the post of Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Commission. You should, therefore, endeavour to obtain our nomination and election to one or other of these posts, [standing only if assured of adequate support]. [2]

6. We do not wish to seek the post of Executive Secretary for an Australian. If it is suggested that an Australian should be appointed to the post, however, we would, if possible, accept.

7. On the functions of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, you should be guided by the need to ensure- (a) That a proper degree of authority remains vested in the Economic and Social Council.

(b) That the Economic Commission for Asia is limited to those functions which it can perform with real effectiveness.

(c) That there is no overlapping between the functions of the Commission and other international agencies and that, in particular, the responsibility of the Specialised Agencies for execution of economic plans in their particular fields is given full recognition.

8. You should accordingly propose as follows:

1. That co-ordination of Asiatic regional economic plans should be the responsibility of the Asiatic Commission but that overall responsibility for interregional co-ordination of plans and co- ordination of functions should be vested in the Economic and Social Council (principally through the Economic and Employment Commission).

2. That the Commission should report fully on its activities to the Economic and Social Council.

3. That the Commission should make recommendations, through the E.S.C., designed to have the specialised agencies engage in regional plans appropriate to the economic development of the region.

4. That technical economic assistance to administrations in the region should, so far as possible, be a function of the specialised agencies and not the Regional Commission.

5. That a survey of general reconstruction progress and continuing needs in the region (continuation of the work of the Sub- Commission on Devastated Areas) might be appropriate to the Commission but that the Specialised Agencies should retain their responsibility for meeting reconstruction needs in their specific fields and that the Regional Commission should participate only when a clear need exists.

6. That field surveys should be conducted by the Specialised Agencies but that, where appropriate to the function of co- ordinating regional plans, the Economic Commission for Asia should be represented on the field survey teams and should report on the result of the survey to the Economic and Social Council.

7. That the views of governments within the area might be sought on types of assistance they would wish from the Commission and on assistance which they consider the Commission could provide.

8. That any recommendations to be made to member governments should be limited to those associated with co-ordination of economic plans in the narrower sense and that policy matters should be referred to the E.S.C.

9. That creation of subsidiary bodies should be limited so as to prevent the appearance of a multitude of regional splinter agencies.

10. That it is of particular importance that use should be made of the existing Killearn Conferences [3] in developing machinery for the co-ordination of economic plans in the region.

11. That the Commission should consult and be consulted by Allied Control Authorities in the region for the purpose of mutual information and advice on matters concerning the economies of occupied territories in relation to the rest of the Asiatic and Far Eastern economy.

12. That all administrations in the region should be brought into association with the work of the Commission.

13. That, subject to the demands of policy laid down by the Statistical Commission, the Commission might endeavour to obtain the adoption of standard statistical nomenclature throughout the region.

14. That, subject to the demands of policy laid down by the Transport and Communications Commission, the Commission should concern itself with transport problems of regional importance in Asia and the Far East.

1 Held in Shanghai between 16 and 25 June.

2 Words in square brackets were handwritten by Burton. T.F. Tsiang of China was elected Chairman and M. Cuaderno of the Philippines was elected Vice-Chairman. Australia did not nominate for either office.

3 Under Killearn's auspices conferences on food production and social welfare were held in 1946 and 1947.

[AA : A1068, ER47/3/18]