410 Bury to Coombs

Letter (extract), CANBERRA, 11 February 1948

During the week I had about half an hour with Chif[ley] after going to see him for a supposed two minutes about the parliamentary programme. He talked of many things. He is rather worried over the Charter and thinks it is going to be very difficult to sell it. On the tariff schedules, however, he is very confident. A letter has come from Attlee on European economic co-operation[1] which has sharpened his interest in the European Customs Union discussions. Given sufficient political impetus from above, something might emerge. The mature countries of Europe can hardly like the idea of being playthings for U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. indefinitely, however many dollars Molotov[2] succeeds in providing for their recovery. Unless they band together to a greater extent and win some support from the Dominions, this is likely to be their lot ... I can't help feeling that economically the development would suit us. It would be a deficit area for most of our export products and if prosperous would be an immensely bigger market than U.S.A. Nutrition over wide parts leaves scope for great improvement while the population is, or easily could be, very nutrition conscious. With such a prospect, existing margins or preference seem a trivial issue. At this end preference is either phoney or entails paying more than we need for essential imports. Culturally the new links would open us to wider influences than at present which would be all to the good.

[1] Document 312.

[2] V.M. Molotov, Soviet Minister for Foreign Affairs.

[AA : CP855, BUNDLE 1, BOX 2]