181 Note by Crawford

Extracts 28 OCTOBER 1946 [1]

COMMENTS ON THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMICS AND STATISTICS

1. This Committee-like the other technical committees of the Conference had the advantage of reports prepared for the Director- General by the Standing Advisory Committees on Economics and Statistics which had met at The Hague immediately prior to the F.A.O. They comprise individuals acting as experts in their fields and not as delegates of their governments. [2]

With the reports of these Advisory Committees made available by the Director-General, the Conference Committee on Economics and Statistics was able to confine itself largely to recommendations affecting the relative urgency of the various suggestions for work by the staff of F.A.0. contained in the Advisory Committee reports. The work of the Conference Committee was divided into two sections: (i) Economics and Marketing and (ii) Statistics; and its report drafted accordingly. The Australian delegation was able to endorse the recommendations, but the following matters covered in the report or in the minutes of proceedings were given special stress by the delegation's representative on the Committee.

2. Economics and Marketing (a) In view of the fact that another Committee of Conference was dealing with the Director-General's proposals for a World Food Board-despite the considerable attention given to these proposals in the report of the Standing Advisory Committee on Economics. The Australian representative made some observations on this matter under another item on the Agenda: World Food Survey.

(b) World Food Survey:

[matter omitted]

(ii) The Delegate stressed what had already been emphasized at Hot Springs and at Quebec [3] that the principal source of improved nutritional status or greater consumption was in domestic action supported where practicable by international measures. There were in fact four avenues open to any country: (i) produce more itself, (2) alter the distribution of its production among its people in favour of low income groups; (3) by one means and another increase its share of ordinary or commercial international trade; and (4) participate in some special international arrangements for 'non- commercial' distribution of foodstuffs. He regretted the tendency- as the result perhaps of the Director-General's proposals for the World Food Board-to give too much prominence to the fourth category.

He addressed his remarks more specifically to this matter.

(iii) The Australian position rested principally on the contention that the most satisfactory basis for adequately supplying foodstuffs to a given population is to raise the levels of employment and living standards. It is recognised that the proposition embraces general economic policies of complex character-both national and international but, nevertheless, F.A.0. objectives (e.g. higher consumption levels) will never be attained without concerted efforts to achieve these wide economic aims. Australia is prepared to play its part in these efforts. Yet in the specific case of India it was pertinent to observe that industrialisation was necessary as the domestic basis for achieving higher living standards there.

(iv) It was then argued that too much hope should not be placed on what has been called Class II distribution (vide Sir John Orr's proposals and the Report of the Standing Advisory Committee on Economics) -that is 'non-commercial' distribution of foodstuffs between nations. No one contemplated permanent relief on the scale of U.N.R.R.A.'s recent operations; yet anything of more limited character could offer only a partial contribution to the goal of raising food consumption levels the world over. [4]

[matter omitted]

1 The note itself is undated but the covering letter from J. E.

Richardson, Joint Secretary of Australian Food and Agriculture Organisation Committee, to External Affairs Dept bears this date.

2 Crawford was a member of the Standing Committee on Economics and Statistics slid attended the FAO conference in that capacity.

3 The United Nations Food Conference (May-June 1943) at Hot Springs, Virginia, established an Interim Commission to prepare detailed plans for a permanent food and agriculture organisation;

these plans were accepted at the First PAO Conference (October 1945) at Quebec, which formally established the organisation.

4 These comments were sent to Bulcock in Washington as part of his brief for the World Food Preparatory Commission.

[AA:A1067, ER46/4/20]