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Historical documents

19 Cablegram from Spender to Menzies

Colombo, 14 January 1950


Set out below is text of recommendations of Foreign Ministers to their Government on economic cooperation in South East Asia.

2. It should be noted that this text has not been published and reference to it in the communiqu� (our 34) is in brief and general terms.1

3. I notice much press speculation on this subject and would suggest any announcements in Australia underline

(a) That subject to approval of the Governments concerned consultative machinery is intended to be set up to make a continuing review of the possibilities of Inter- Commonwealth cooperation in the area.

(b) It is intended that there should be cooperation among all countries interested in the region.

4. Text begins–

(a)The Conference of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers recommend that participating Governments should–

(1) Examine the possibility of making financial assistance available for essential productive purposes in South and South East Asia, taking into account their existing commitments.

(2) Support as high a priority as possible for projects presented to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development which would be important to economic well-being of the area and would be in accordance with the Bank's objectives.

(3) Contribution to technical assistance work of the United Nations and its specialised agencies and to support in these organisations as high a priority as possible for the needs of South and South East Asia.

(4) Examine the possibility of separate supplementary bilateral arrangements in appropriate cases for provision of direct technical and other assistance.

(5) General, consider proposals for economic development of area, keeping in view the possibilities of mutual assistance.

(b) With a view to implementation of these recommendations the conference further recommends the establishment of a consultative committee, membership of which will be open to all Commonwealth Governments, which wish to participate with the following terms of reference–

(1) To receive from Governments an indication of the action which they consider it feasible to take in response to the recommendations in section (A).

(2) To approach the Governments of countries outside the Commonwealth interested in the area with a view to enlisting their collaboration.

(3) To examine methods of co-ordinating development of activities in South and South East Asia in association with international and regional organisations concerned with object of raising the level of production and standard of living in the area.

(4) To examine the desirability of promoting international commodity agreements for basic products, which would benefit the area and could be recommended for consideration under the Havana Charter.2

(5) To consider whether economic development of underdeveloped countries of the area would be assisted by drawing up of a coordinated plan of development and by the establishment of special machinery.

(6) To make recommendations to Governments.

(c) If these recommendations are accepted the Australian Government would be pleased to accept the responsibility of convening the first meeting of the consultative committee in Australia.

[NAA: A1838, 532/7 part 1]

1 The relevant excerpt of the communiqu� reads as follows: 'The greater part of [the Conference] has been spent in a comprehensive review of the current problems of South-East Asia both political and economic. It was recognised that in the changing conditions brought about by recent developments in this area, progress depends mainly on the improvement of economic conditions. The Conference was impressed by the magnitude of the contribution which the success of progressive policies in this area could make to the peace and prosperity of the world. Executive decisions are not taken at Commonwealth meetings of this kind; but, as a result of the valuable exchange of views which has taken place, recommendations for the furtherance of economic development in South and South-East Asia will be submitted to Commonwealth Governments for their consideration. These recommendations include a proposal for the establishment of a Consultative Committee representing Commonwealth Governments. The Australian Delegation proposed that the first meeting of this Committee, when set up, should be held in Australia'. For full text of the communiqu�, see Current Notes, vol. 21,1950, pp. 45-6.

2 The Havana Charter for the International Trade Organisation was adopted at the UN Conference on Trade and Employment which was held in Cuba, 1947. The Charter never entered into force.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017
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