AGRICULTURE AND TRADE & CUSTOMS Canberra,
Japan-Proposal for a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation At the opening session (31st October) of the current trade talks between Australian and Japanese officials in Canberra, the Japanese asked for an indication of the Australian Government's attitude to the conclusion of a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation.
2. It was decided to exclude discussion of this item from the present trade talks. However, the Japanese are anxious to obtain our views on negotiating such an agreement.
3. Our view on Treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation has been that we should not enter into any such agreements until we have concluded an agreement with the United States. We would then be aware of some of the complications involved in such negotiations and agreements and would be in a better position to avoid any undesirable features. The negotiations with the United States which began several years ago, are at present at a standstill. There are numerous objections on the Australian side especially concerning those matters which fall within the jurisdiction of the States. In the case of Japan, Australian immigration policy would of course complicate the negotiations.
4. The Philippines proposed concluding a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation before presenting the draft Treaty of Friendship (1953). They were told that no progress was possible towards concluding an agreement until the Treaty with the United States was well advanced. In October, some thought was given to concluding a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with Indonesia but the possibility was ruled out in favour of a Treaty of Friendship only.
5. This Department is therefore inclined to inform the Japanese Embassy that because of the federal character of the Australian Constitution and the diversity of State laws regulating many of the items usually included in such treaties, the negotiation of treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation present considerable difficulties and for this reason Australia has never concluded such a treaty. We would add however, that we would be pleased to discuss particular issues affecting trading relations between the two Governments which the Japanese Government may at any time wish to raise.
6. Before we take any further action we would appreciate your views.