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171 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 86A LONDON, 1 May 1943


Your telegram No. 64 of the 29th April [1]-I can best reply by
giving you in broad outline the background to the position which
has now been reached. While it has always been recognised that
economic questions and all the points raised in Article VII would
eventually have to be treated as a whole, it was felt desirable
here that before this stage was reached informal discussions
should take place between the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. on
individual subjects.

In pursuit of this programme thought was sufficiently advanced
here over 12 months ago with regard to Currency and Exchange, such
thought being embodied in the Clearing Union Plan, for informal
discussions to be undertaken. Work was well advanced on the Buffer
Stock Plan and it was contemplated discussions on the Clearing
Union Plan would be followed by informal conversations on it.

For various reasons, of which you have been informed, it was found
impossible to initiate these preliminary conversations and as you
know the Clearing Union Plan and Stabilisation scheme were
published recently [2] without their having taken place. Such
publication brought economic questions to the forefront and
precipitated suggestions that the time had come when they should
be considered by the United Nations as a whole. This atmosphere
was strengthened by the President's announcement of the holding of
the Food Conference.

In addition to this nebulous thought certain practical
considerations emphasised the necessity for early action with
regard to economic questions:-

(1) To avoid public controversy and the creation of contending
groups with regard to the two currency and exchange plans.

(2) To prevent the Food Conference wandering into fields beyond
its intended scope by showing that matters, e.g. Commercial
Policy, vital to the implementation of any proposals they might
put forward were being dealt with separately.

Apart from these general considerations there were certain
specific ones which led the United Kingdom to think that the time
had arrived when the question of post-war Commercial Policy should
be taken up with the U.S.A.:-

(i) That if the matter were further delayed there was a danger of
U.S.A. opinion crystallising into a definite policy which might be
unacceptable to us, but which it would be difficult to resist
without causing friction.

(ii) That the renewal of the Trade Agreement[s] Act by Congress
was the moment to raise the issue before the President had taken
any action under his renewed powers.

With regard to your specific questions:-

(a) The above is my broad answer. More specifically, the United
Kingdom is in line with your last sentence and are now
endeavouring to work out such a programme which they regard as
covering the whole Economic field. They consider the time has come
for the initiation of discussions on all aspects, including
Commercial Policy, but that any commitments on Commercial Policy
must be governed by the Currency and Exchange mechanism upon which
agreement is reached, in view of the financial position in which
the United Kingdom will be on the termination of the war.

(b) United States of America will be fully informed of the
proposed discussions. The line taken will be that set out in my
telegram No. 172A of the 23rd October 1942. [3]

(c) In view of the possibility of the U.S.A. opening this question
at any time after the President's powers have been renewed by the
passing of the Trade Agreement[s] Act by Congress, it is desired,
if possible, that the third week in May should be adhered to.

I suggest on this point the best course would be to wait for a day
or two to ascertain the replies from the other Dominions.

Although formal notification has not yet been sent, I have learnt
privately that Canada is accepting.

If other Dominions are accepting I suggest we should not press for

(d) Type in my view should be responsible senior Civil Servant, or
practical Economist. The most essential qualification, however, in
my view, is knowledge of the Government's point of view with
regard to post-war economic policy and a good working
understanding of Australia's economic and social conditions.

I gather that the object of the meeting will be to enable the
United Kingdom to put forward their views with regard to the
various questions concerned and after hearing reactions of the
Dominions to them to recommend modifications if necessary. The
primary object would be that whoever was sent could go back to
Australia to convey the information he had aquired to the

A great deal of good and clear thinking has been done here but on
a level below the Governmental, hence the desirability of the
exchange of views with the Dominions being on that level.

(e) This is a possible alternative but in view of the calibre of
some Dominion Representatives on the economic side in London I
hope it will not have to be restored to. If It is I would greatly
welcome expert assistance from Australia of the type suggested
under (d) if it is at all practicable for you to send it.


1 Document 167.

2 See Document 98, 2 and 3.

3 On file AA:M100, October 1942.

[AA:M100 1943]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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