136 Letter From Mcewen To Mcmahon

23rd May, 1956



You will recall that the Cabinet Submission on trade negotiations with Japan referred to the value in our trade relations with the United Kingdom of a flexible arrangement with Japan.

It is of considerable tactical importance so far as our forthcoming negotiations with U.K. [1] are concerned that they should have as little idea as possible of the basis we have in mind for trade negotiations with Japan.

In all, I can see a number of advantages, and no real disadvantage in so arranging our trade negotiations with the Japanese that no great progress would be made before say August or September.

Certainly, the initial stage of exchanging requests for examination by both parties could be a prolonged one.

Altogether, it may prove desirable that the conclusion of the agreement with Japan await our having some idea of our progress with the U.K. in the more detailed and second stage of negotiations with her.

I tell you this before I leave so as to avoid the need for cables on this point while I am away.

1 McEwen accompanied Menzies to London for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, beginning on 27 June. Menzies announced on 24 June that during the conference Australian Ministers would seek talks on general trade questions aimed at establishing a set of principles on which to base a new trade agreement.

[AA : M58/2, 509]