145 Australia-Japan Trade Negotiations: First Meeting

29th August, 1956



Mr G.P. Phillips, Chairman.

Mr Atsushi Uyama, Counsellor, Japanese Embassy.

Mr Naotomo Takase, First Secretary, Japanese Embassy.

Mr Hajime Nishimiya, Third Secretary, Japanese Embassy.

Mr R.G. Robertson, Department of Trade.

Mr K. Brennan, Department of External Affairs.

Mr F. Giles, Department of Primary Industry.

Mr M. Farrell, Department of Customs and Excise.

Dr R. Whitelaw, Department of Treasury.

Mr N.R. Lind, Department of Trade.

The meeting commenced at 11.10 a.m.

MR PHILLIPS welcomed the Japanese delegation and made brief mention of the exploratory talks at the end of 1955 and the exchange of notes in May, 1956. On the procedure to be followed he suggested that our understanding of this meeting was that it should be concerned with the exchange of formal requests. Both parties would then doubtless like time to examine the position and a further meeting could then take place. The timing of this meeting would depend largely on the Japanese. For our part we could be ready in a week or two.

We would suggest that the next meeting would be for the purpose of discussing the initial reactions to the respective request lists from the point of view of whether the requests offer a satisfactory basis for negotiation and whether any points of clarification or elaboration were needed.

MR UYAMA replied that Japan is anxious to maintain and promote trade relations between Australia and Japan. Last year Australia's exports to Japan increased by 47%, Japan's exports to Australia increased by 22%.

The Japanese understanding of the position as regards the trade talks is as outlined by Mr Phillips and they agree to the procedure outlined, viz., the exchange of requests to be followed in the near future by a meeting to prepare for forthcoming negotiations.

However, while the Australian side have a fairly good idea of what Japan's requests will be, the Japanese do not know exactly what Australia wishes from Japan and hence it may take a little longer for the Japanese Government to be ready. Nevertheless, they would aim to exchange initial reactions with us as soon as possible.

The request lists were exchanged. Mr Phillips read the text of the Explanatory Note [2] and handed it to the Japanese.

MR UYAMA read through the Australian requests [3] and pointed out that some of the statements were rather vague and he felt that his Government's immediate reaction would be to ask him for more specific information on some items. He instanced paragraph (5) of the Australian requests and sought more detail.

MR PHILLIPS explained that we had in mind things like major changes in Japanese Government buying policy which could affect any arrangement reached between Australia and Japan. For example, Japan may alter her approach or method of import on particular commodities. A change from the import of wool to a synthetic fibre programme would obviously affect Australia.

MR UYAMA requested an elucidation on paragraph 5 in writing.

MR PHILLIPS pointed out that where we mentioned subsequent amendments in paragraph 8 we were thinking more of detail e.g. in paragraph 4 i (c) we instanced dried fruit. We had also been approached on fountain pens. These details could be left to the negotiating stage.

It was agreed that Mr Nishimiya should contact Mr Robertson on further points of elucidation.

MR PHILLIPS pointed out that we do not wish to go too far into elaboration until the second meeting.

MR UYAMA said that the 31st August had been mentioned in the Australian Note of 25th May as a date for formal negotiations to commence. Japan had reserved her position at the time in view of talks with United Kingdom and it was not possible for a Japanese delegation to be in Australia by the 31st. They understood that Australia also had talks with United Kingdom in view. Japan had a problem in arranging a suitable delegation and in timing. The clarification of the request lists would be done by the Embassy staff but a delegation from Tokyo would be required for later negotiations. They would like some advice as soon as practicable on the timing of the later negotiations.

MR PHILLIPS suggested that perhaps something on those lines could be conveyed to the Embassy in a few days time. As Mr Uyama had said we also had other commitments.

On publicity the Minister may wish to make a brief announcement and if so we would consult with the Embassy.

MR UYAMA did not think that they would wish to make any announcement but the possibilities of an approach from the Press could not be discounted. He would propose to comment on the lines that the Minister for Trade had indicated in May, the possibilities of trade negotiations and these talks were continuing.

MR PHILLIPS indicated we would probably follow much the same line and if Governments wished more formal statements then we would discuss it with the Embassy.

Meeting closed at 11.50 a.m.

1 The meeting was held in the Department of Trade.

2 See Document 146.

3 Document 146.

[AA : A1838/283, 759/1/7, iv]