150 Williams to Chifley

Aide Memoire CANBERRA, 29 January 1947

TOP SECRET

The High Commissioner has been asked to refer to the Secretary of State's telegram to the Prime Minister D. No. 71 of 28th January containing a general appreciation of the economic situation now confronting the United Kingdom on oversea account. In it, particular reference has been made to the disquieting weakening of the United Kingdom dollar position and an indication is given of the sort of steps [1] which the United Kingdom authorities for their part will have to take in order to adjust the balance.

Unless they are successful in achieving that balance their means of payment in the Western Hemisphere will be restricted and their liability to furnish dollars as required by the rest of the sterling area will be curtailed.

2. The United Kingdom authorities are grateful for the readiness which the Australian authorities have consistently shown in helping to conserve dollars. They feel sure therefore that the Commonwealth authorities will appreciate the significance to the sterling area as a whole of the critical nature of the United Kingdom dollar position and that they will be ready to take such steps as they can to ensure that maximum conservation of dollar resources which in present circumstances is essential to all sterling countries. In particular they hope that the Commonwealth authorities will feel able, with due regard to the limits imposed by United States susceptibilities and until the picture is changed by a general international acceptance of an obligation not to discriminate in import controls, to maintain the differential treatment that the United Kingdom and other sterling area imports enjoy under their import control; and that they will continue to reinforce the dollar savings which will accrue in this way by such economies in direct dollar expenditure as are practicable without weakening their economic efficiency even at the expense of a temporary postponement of relaxations in consumption. In this connection the High Commissioner has been asked to take this opportunity of expressing the warm appreciation of the United Kingdom Government of the exceedingly helpful action by the Commonwealth Government in the recent relaxation of restrictions on imports from the United Kingdom.

3. The United Kingdom authorities would welcome the closest possible consultation with them on the general issues involved and they will endeavour to keep the Commonwealth authorities as fully informed as possible of any particular measures the United Kingdom may propose to take. [2]

1 The steps were: to develop exports to the dollar area and exercise care in imports from it, to increase imports from Europe and the sterling area, to increase food production, and to examine dollar expenditure on oil.

2 In a letter dated 20 February, Chifley asked Dalton to discuss matters informally with Coombs who would arrive in London shortly for the international trade negotiations.

[AA : A1068, ER47/52/1]