412 Report by Linford[1]

, CANBERRA, 22 December 1948

SECRET

EUROPEAN CUSTOMS UNION STUDY GROUP Report of Observer to Fourth Plenary Session 1st-6th December 1948 [matter omitted]

II. THE ATTITUDES OF COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES In extra-conference discussions, an attempt was made to find to what extent the Dominions could show a united front should the position of preferences be jeopardised by the proposed entry of the United Kingdom into a European Customs Union. It was found that the Australian, New Zealand and, perhaps in a lesser degree, South African views were very close. Each was concerned since its agricultural industries have been developed in recent years on the basis of preferential treatment for its products in the United Kingdom. Canada was not as concerned as these three, partly because of the influence of the United States on its policy and partly because tariff preferences are at present of less importance than currency convertibility. Eire and Ceylon were not greatly interested, the former because the short distance over which its produce has to travel would place it in an advantageous position notwithstanding loss of preferences, and the latter because its produce would not be affected. India and Pakistan were not represented but there is little doubt that their attitude would be substantially the same as Ceylon's.

In sum, then, it would appear that if modifications in the imperial preference system are proposed by reason of the United Kingdom's entry into a Customs Union, Australia can anticipate strong support of any objections which she may make only from New Zealand and, perhaps, South Africa.

[1] R.J. Linford, Department of Trade and Customs.

[AA : A1838, 703/8]