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Historical documents

65 Watt to Dunk

Cablegram P149 CANBERRA, 13 August 1946


Please see report of Washington telegram No 1107 to Canberra re
F.A.0. 'Proposals for a World Food Board' contained in P.154. [1]

2. A note has been received from the United States Government'
indicating its disapproval of the Orr plan and affirming:

(a) international collaborative action of United Nations is
required and represents soundest approach.

(b) Copenhagen conference should analyse alternative proposals and
prepare plan of international action for coping with problems. No
action should be taken at this session which prejudices the work
of the Committee.

(c) The Committee recommended by the Director-General should
submit its report to him not later than 31st December, 1946, and
the Director-General should bring the report to the attention of
the member nations of F.A.0. and to the Economic [and] Social
Council of the United [Nations] at the earliest possible date.

3. Initial reaction here is favourable to full exploration of Orr
plan which promises to be in interests of big exporters of
agricultural products like Australia, though considerable
modification may be necessary. Our impression is that the basis of
United States objection is partially ideological and partially the
concern of the United States farm bloc for high prices. The plan
would tend to limit freely competitive market conditions which
almost inevitably entails United States hostility. The United
States alternative seems designed to defeat effective action by
F.A.0. which is the competent organ of United Nations in this

4. Full F.A.0. proposals will need careful study but may not
arrive in time for suitable instructions to Australian delegation.

In view of United States opposition strenuous efforts may be
needed at Copenhagen to ensure proper consideration of Orr plan.

5. Our tentative Departmental view is that Orr proposals should be
supported in principle (subject to detailed examination) and that
Australia should seek election to the Committee proposed by F.A.0.

6. Would appreciate your comments. [3]

7. Re your 138. [4] According to F.A.0. Constitution it is
necessary to lodge credentials with Director-General fifteen days
before opening date of conference. This rule may not be rigid but
we are arranging credentials for Walker, in the hope that he will
be able to attend.

8. Suggest you consider practicability of providing a Secretary
for the delegation at about Third Secretary status? Such services
are deemed essential by those who attended first meeting of F.A.0.

last year.

1 The cablegrams (dispatched 9 and 13 August respectively)
summarised proposals published by F.A.0. for long-term machinery
to stabilise food supplies and commodity prices. Functions
proposed for the World Food Board included establishment of
emergency food reserves, purchase (financed by a revolving fund)
of stocks at low prices for resale when prices rose, disposal of
surpluses to needy countries at special rates, negotiation of
export quotas if necessary, supply of long-term credits, possibly
through the International Bank, for development of agriculture and
industry. The proposals were to be submitted to the F.A.0.

Conference in Copenhagen for approval in principle and for
appointment of a committee of representatives of UP to 15
governments and international organisations to report on a
specific plan by 31 December.

2 From the U.S. Legation in Canberra. Dated 12 August.

3 Dunk responded, in cablegram 154 dispatched from Paris 16
August, that in his view the plan was overambitious and hasty, the
financial arrangements too vague, and that F.A.O.'s immediate task
should be establishment of a sound organisation. He considered the
plan politically dangerous for Australia without safeguards
against exploitation by consuming countries and added that the
proposal should not be considered in isolation from proposals for
an international trade organisation.

4 Watt had believed that the Australian delegation to the F.A.0.

Conference, commencing on 2 September, should include a
representative with economic and international expertise, and had
suggested Walker attend. In cablegram 138, dispatched 9 August,
Dunk agreed but, as Walker was overburdened with conference work,
asked whether a decision might be deferred.

[AA:A1067, ER46/4/16]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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