121 Informal Trade Talks: Australia-Japan: Record Of Discussion

7th November, 1955

MR HEYES announced that the Department of Trade and Customs was preparing replies to the questionnaires submitted by the Japanese delegates but that they would not be complete for about a fortnight.

MR UYAMA referred to the programming of the present talks. He said that it appeared that the Australian delegates would not be in a position to give definite replies to Japanese requests before mid- December and asked whether any concession granted could be incorporated in the Australian import licensing program for the January-March 1956 quarter.

MR HEYES explained that the restricted list of imports from Japan had been established as the result of a Cabinet decision and could only be changed by Cabinet. The Australian representatives would take note of any requests the Japanese cared to make on these items but it would be difficult to get a decision before January because of the forthcoming elections.

MR UYAMA explained that the Japanese foreign exchange budget for the October-March period was now being formulated and if it appeared that his requests would receive favourable treatment in Australia he might be able to obtain increased allocations of funds for Australian goods. He explained that the allocations for some goods had already been published but those for others had not been released, and in these it might be possible to improve Australia's position. He said, confidentially, that the Food Agency had recently decided to purchase 10,000 tons of barley from the Queensland Barley Board and had accepted tenders for the sale of 28,000 tons of Australian wheat.

MR HEYES said that a 'reserved list' [2] had been established when Japanese goods were assimilated into the general non-dollar licensing system in late 1954 because many of the duties on Japanese goods had not been considered by the Tariff Board since before the war and in some cases, particularly where specific rates applied, they bore no relation to present-day conditions.

Officials did not have the information necessary to advise the Government on the strength of Japanese competition and it was therefore necessary to adopt a cautious attitude. Australia was closely watching the costs of imports now being received from Japan and would continue to do so until it was possible to decide what was an adequate level of protection against Japanese goods.

MR UYAMA asked when he could expect a reply on his proposals for a barley purchase scheme.

MR MILLWOOD expected to have the answer ready by 9th November.

MR UYAMA then asked about his proposals for a commercial treaty.

MR HEYES replied that they had been sent to the Department of External Affairs and he would contact Mr Shaw to ascertain what progress had been made.

MR UYAMA said he expected to have the answers to Dr Westerman's queries by late November or early December.

MR HEYES promised the replies to the questionnaires on Australian customs and licensing matters in two or three weeks.

MR MILLWOOD then asked whether it was usual for the Japanese licensing budgets to be implemented in a piecemeal fashion.

MR UYAMA said it was normal for allocations for various commodities to be released at different times and he had received no indications of any unusual delay in the October-March budget.

It would, however, be best not to waste time unnecessarily if Australia wanted to share in any extra allocations which might be available. He then asked some general questions regarding the Australian import licensing system which were answered briefly by Mr Robertson.

The meeting adjourned at 11.50 a.m. until a date to be fixed. [3]

1 Attendance at this meeting was the same as that given in note 1 to Document 118, except that the Department of Commerce &

Agriculture was represented by J.R. Millwood.

2 Annex C to Document 81.

3 At a brief meeting on 29 December Heyes presented detailed Australian replies to the Japanese questionnaires on customs and import licensing. These replies are on file AA : A1838/283, 759/1/7, iii.

[AA : A1310/1, 805/118/24]