415 Commonwealth Relations Office to Australian Government

Cablegram 24, LONDON, 1 March 1949, 5.10 p.m.

IMMEDIATE CONFIDENTIAL

Your telegram No.23 of 9th February. Gentlemen's Agreement. We greatly appreciate the readiness of the Commonwealth Government to avoid, if possible, any alteration in the text proposed at Geneva and we have carefully considered the two points of interpretation which you raise with this end in view.

2. We entirely agree with your interpretation of the words 'sympathetic consideration'. We had not intended them to involve the implication of prior commitment although we do understand them to mean that agreement will be given if at all possible. We should naturally ourselves be ready to consider in a spirit of goodwill any difficulties which you might find in a particular case.

3. The passage in the Geneva minute quoted in your 4th paragraph was intended to go somewhat further than is implied in the phrase 'sympathetic consideration' and was meant to cover the case in which a Commonwealth country at the time a particular case arose, had not had any material interest, that is to say, any regular or substantial trade in the item affected. We feel that we must have freedom in such cases to take necessary protective measures against third countries and that we in general should not be prevented from doing so, solely on the ground of a potential interest [of][1] another Commonwealth country in the future development of an export trade to us in the commodity in question. You will observe that the provision is that consent shall 'in general' be granted and we are of course committed to informing you in advance so that you would have opportunity to represent your views. We should certainly be ready to give sympathetic consideration as defined above to any representations which you might wish to make about items of this sort.

4. We should be grateful if, in the light of these assurances, you could let us know that you accept the agreement as drafted at Geneva. Since we may wish to take very early steps to clarify the position in our own domestic legislation we would particularly appreciate it if we could have your concurrence as quickly as possible.

[1] Inserted from the London copy.

[AA : A571, 44/1109, XV]