172 Evatt to Curtin

Cablegram E47 Washington, 4 May 1943, 9.59 p.m.

Anglo Dominion talks on post-war commercial policy. I have seen Bruce's message [1] and adhere to the view previously expressed in my telegram E.34 [2] with which Coombs strongly agrees. I add that as a Government we will invite political trouble if we do more at present than assist at the food conference without in any way committing ourselves as a Government. With an election pending we cannot get a mandate to enter into commitments of post-war commercial policy, and even participation in these discussions would be capable of being distorted in the electorate. Naturally Bruce cannot be expected to understand these views, which involve political judgment as to reaction of the electorate.

An additional factor against the proposal is that opening of general discussion now can only delay the completion of our proposed trade agreement with America, which offers Australia exceptional benefits as a result of reduction of duty by 50 per cent. on wool, meat and butter. Will cable regarding this matter shortly.

1 Bruce's cablegram 86A (Document 171) was repeated from Canberra to Washington on 4 May as no. 488 (see file AA:A4764, 6).

2 Document 169.

[AA:A989, 43/735/57/1]