29 Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, U.K. High Commissioner in Australia

Cablegram 15 LONDON, 24 January 1940


Your telegram of 13th January No. 13 Exports to Russia. [1] As Commonwealth Government ask for our advice it is that it would be advisable to go slow in this matter. Our own policy here has been to withhold licences for exports to Russia but as will be appreciated Russia's corresponding demands on us are in the main for raw materials and it has therefore been possible to give as a reason for our restrictions that we could not afford to stock [sic] such commodities under present conditions.

Wheat is in a somewhat different category and it is admittedly doubtful whether there are equally strong reasons for withholding supplies from Russia in this case. On the other hand wheat sent to Eastern Siberia seems likely to set free a corresponding amount for use elsewhere in the Soviet Union.

As however you will have seen from today's press, the Canadian Government have just taken powers to prohibit all exports to countries contiguous to Germany except under permit and we understand that these powers will be used to prevent effect being given to a deal in Canadian wheat for Russia which has been arranged through commercial channels.

We feel that the Commonwealth Government will realise in the circumstances that complications are likely to arise if contrary action were to be taken by them in relation to the same commodity.


1 On 12 January 1940 the Secretary of the Prime Minister's Dept, Frank Strahan, wrote to the Official Secretary of the U.K. High Commission in Australia, R. R. Sedgwick, to ask if the U.K. Govt had any objection to Louis Dreyfus and Company shipping 25 000 tons of Australian wheat to Vladivostok for sale to the U.S.S.R.

Govt (see letter on file AA: A1608, H61/2/4). Whiskard's cablegram 13 (not found) presumably transmitted that query to London.

2 See also Bruce's cablegram 66 of 24 January 1940 to the External Affairs Dept (on file cited in note 1). It suggested that as Canada felt Australia had outmanoeuvred her in the matter of wheat sales to the United Kingdom it would be unwise further to antagonise Canadian interests by selling wheat to the U.S.S.R.

[FA: A3195, 1.603]