81 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 30 CANBERRA, 17 January 1947, 5.15 p.m.

Your UN37. [1]

We find ourselves in the difficulty that the procedure arrangements for conducting the multilateral tariff negotiations at Geneva are based on an exchange of rate request lists [2] occurring on or about 31st December and that this basic requirement is not being observed.

Up to date Australia has not received rate request lists from any Member of the Preparatory Committee. The only lists received by Australia are lists of a preliminary nature from United States, United Kingdom, South Africa and Norway. Renewed inquiries are being made in other countries in an endeavour to ascertain which if any of them intend to present requests upon Australia.

The delay in the receipt of requests from other countries makes it more or less impossible within the time remaining to advance highly essential Preparatory work to the stage necessary to make it possible for our delegates to adhere to the full programme of negotiations contemplated by the Memorandum of Procedures on the basis of the timetable envisaged at the London meeting of the Preparatory Committee.

For the reason that the completion of Australian preparations is dependent upon prior and timely action by other countries it is quite impossible at the moment to say to what extent Australia could follow the procedures laid down in the Memorandum on Procedure. In those circumstances the Government is not for the time being in a position to reach the decisions necessary to enable it to respond to the invitation to express its views on the procedural recommendations of the Preparatory Committee. The matter is receiving attention and we shall reply as soon as possible.

It would be helpful if in the meanwhile you could ascertain and advise whether the United Nations Secretariat has received any information indicative of whether particular countries will either be ready or not ready to proceed with detailed tariff negotiations on 8th April with particular reference.

1 Dispatched 14 January. It conveyed a request from the UN Secretariat asking for the Government's view on the recommendation, made at the first session of the Preparatory Committee, that negotiations for the proposed multilateral trade agreement be conducted as part of the second session, to be held at Geneva from 8 April, and in accordance with the procedures recommended in the Memorandum on Procedure in the Report.

2 Lists of commodities were submitted by individual participating countries to others, setting out tariff concessions, or reductions in preference margins, sought for each item.

[AA : A3196, 1947, 0.914]