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91 Record Of Conversation By Upton

17th November, 1954


Trade with Japan
Mr Shaw conveyed the Secretary's regrets that he was unavoidably
detained at discussions with Mr Malcolm MacDonald. [1]

2. He then handed over a note advising that the Government was
willing to enter into talks with Japan to examine mutual trade
problems. Mr Shaw said that the Prime Minister proposed to make a
statement this evening and showed Mr Nishi the text of the
proposed statement.

3. Initially Mr Nishi showed no definite reaction to the note nor
the press statement but after some hesitation, remarked that they
appeared to mark a step forward.

4. He enquired about the wording in the statement 'whilst the
proposed trade talks with Japan would bear the GATT position in
mind'. [2] It was explained to him that the proposed talks would
be bilateral and completely outside the GATT but we could not
entirely ignore in these talks the fact that Japan wished to
accede to the Agreement to which Australia was a contracting

5. Mr Shaw said that preparations were being made by the
Australian authorities for talks but no decisions had been made on
time, place or scope. It might be some time before we were ready
especially since the Ministers for Commerce and Agriculture and
Trade and Customs together with their permanent heads and senior
officials were now in Geneva. Our Departmental view was that
Canberra was the most suitable place. We assumed that the talks
would include discussion of tariffs.

6. Mr Nishi commented, regarding timing, that many of Japan's
trade experts would be in Geneva after 1st February. It might be
possible to have some informal discussions before formal talks
started. Tariffs and licensing were of main concern to Japan.

However the Japanese Government as a matter of policy favoured
comprehensive commercial treaties and talks might cover more than
just tariffs and licensing.

7. Mr Shaw said that there might be an announcement soon on new
import licensing procedures which would provide Japan with
increased opportunities to compete. This action would be taken
independently of the proposed trade talks. As regards commercial
treaties the Australian Government did not generally favour them.

8. Then Mr Nishi said he could not understand why the level of
actual imports was so much less than the level of licensing. Mr
Shaw mentioned the time lag and the possibility that licences
issued for imports from Japan were not used by importers. Mr Nishi
specifically requested details on this latter point.

9. He said that one matter which his Government might wish to take
up was the establishment in Australia of branches of Japanese
firms. Mr Shaw said he understood that it was relatively easy for
foreign businessmen, including presumably Japanese, to enter
Australia for periods of some years to operate bona fide
businesses. He would, however, make enquiries.

10. Mr Nishi then said that a specific case had arisen with
respect to the Tokyo Bank, successor to the Yokohama Specie Bank.

An application had been made to the Commonwealth Bank a little
over a year ago to open a branch in Sydney. This application had
been turned down. It was not expected that a branch of the Tokyo
Bank would compete to any appreciable extent with banks already
established in Australia. Japanese woolbuyers would, however,
welcome the credit and other facilities which could be provided by
a branch of the Tokyo Bank in Sydney. Mr Shaw said he would make
enquiries on this matter.

11. In conclusion Mr Nishi said that he would seek advice from his
Government on the question of the proposed trade talks.

1 UK Commissioner-General for South-East Asia.

2 See Document 92.

[AA : A1838/283, 759/1/7, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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