84 Chifley to Coombs

Memorandum [CANBERRA], 18 February 1947


In connection with the forthcoming meeting of the Preparatory Committee for an International Conference on Trade and Employment and the prior British Commonwealth discussions in London you are authorised to follow as far as they are relevant the instructions which were issued to the delegation which went to the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee. [1]

As regards the terms of the draft charter for an International Trade Organisation it is apparent, however, that until the alternative drafts are available from the Drafting Committee it will not be possible to make recommendations to the Government and you are therefore authorised to carry on negotiations regarding the charter and to submit recommendations in the light of development during the course of the conference to the Government concerning the policy to be followed and instructions will then be issued by Cabinet.

As regards the negotiations for trade treaties you will already have Cabinet approval to possible tariff reductions in response to the U.S.A. requests. These will be supplemented in respect of other countries as recommendations are submitted to Cabinet. In general you are instructed to proceed with detailed tariff negotiations involving concessions in both the Australian tariff and the margins of preference enjoyed by Australia in other Empire markets- (1) on the basis of securing the best possible agreements that can be obtained for Australia at the minimum cost, bearing in mind- (a) the necessity of obtaining expanded and diversified markets for Australia's exports;

(b) the Government's policy of progressive industrial development;

(c) the need to maintain and steadily expand the general level of employment in the manufacturing industries;

(2) on the assumption that it is the intention of the Government to conclude trade agreements with the other members of the Preparatory Committee if satisfactory terms can be obtained;

(3) on the assumption that it is the intention of the Government to proceed with membership of the trade organisation provided that the terms of the charter are satisfactory for Australia;

(4) on the understanding that no commitments are to be made without the Government's approval.

1 The parts of the instructions still relevant authorised the delegation to speak at the meetings in terms of (a) Australia's preparedness rejoin the organisation provided satisfactory agreement was reached; (b) Australia's desire to see the US draft charter amended, principally by strengthening of employment provisions, by obliging members to ensure full use of international resources, by insertion of criteria for imposition of quantitative restrictions without penalty, and by modifying provisions for subsidies and intergovernmental commodity arrangements; and (c) Australia's preparedness to engage in tariff negotiations provided compensatory advantages were received.

[AA : A1068, ER47/1/12]