22 Memorandum From Randall To Woodrow

9th April, 1953

Trade with Japan Thank you for your memorandum of 30th March giving the background to the advices we have received recently from the United Kingdom on this subject. [1]

For your information, the newly installed Japanese Embassy in Canberra is pressing for a relaxation of import restrictions on Japanese goods. Embassy officers have been discussing the matter with the Department of Trade and Customs for some weeks and on the 27th March the attached note [2] was presented to the Department of External Affairs.

As you know the Department of Trade and Customs has been aware of the problem for some time and has been conscious that the chief difficulty on our side is that any significant increase in the list of goods which may be licensed for import from Japan would very likely include goods whose import from Japan would raise political objections. Some relaxations were made last month to permit the import from Japan of certain types of goods, which are available from other sources, but they are not expected to add up to much. We understand that the Department of Trade and Customs is still examining in detail the possible scope for further relaxations.

1 Woodrow had reported the United Kingdom's decision to relax some import restrictions on Japanese goods to prevent curtailment of Japan's imports from the sterling area. UK Ministers knew that a similar relaxation of the special category of restriction against Japanese goods in Australia and New Zealand would attract publicity. To avoid any appearance of encouraging actions which might damage UK interests, UK High Commissioners in Canberra and Wellington were instructed to inform those governments of the UK relaxation, but at the same time to ask them to avoid concessions to Japan which might prejudice UK exports.

2 Not published. The memorandum stated that Japan was being driven 'to cut drastically' imports from the sterling area, suggested a strong demand in Australia for Japanese textiles, porcelain, chemicals, machinery and metals, and requested that the list of permissible imports be extended to include manufactures of flax, ramie and hemp, tyres and tubes, plywood, and porcelain other than electrical appliances.

[AA : A571/158, 46/1931, xvii]