207 Minute from Scully to Anthony

Canberra, 17 September 1982

Confidential

CER-MTIA Views

We met with the senior office bearers of the MTIA in Sydney at 2.00 p.m. on 8 September, 1982.

At the conclusion of a very free exchange of view on the worth of the CER the impression that I am asked to convey to you is-

  1. there is support by the MTIA generally for a well balanced CER
  2. there is an understanding of the benefits that the elimination in the future of incentives and import licensing will convey long term on Australian manufacturers as well as an appreciation of the cumulative effect of the tariff phase-down in New Zealand and the progressive liberalisation of licensing envisaged.

On the other hand, the MTIA group expressed their strong dissatisfaction with the time that would elapse before the terminal dates come into effect. The particular point that was emphasised was that, because the Australian average tariff is lower than that in New Zealand, New Zealand manufacturers would arrive at duty free treatment in respect of a sensitive range of Australian industries whilst Australian manufacturers exporting to New Zealand still faced high duties and obtained only minimal import access into that country. It was put that this would encourage New Zealand manufacturers to expand their operations, or Australian manufacturers to shift to New Zealand, to exploit the situation in the three years or so before there began to be a position of equality.

Officials pointed to the safeguards provisions in these areas, agreed to strongly support a three month maximum period within which a decision on safeguard action would be taken, and undertook to convey the sensitivities of the specific industry areas to you. These sensitive industry areas are set out in the attached list.

It is suggested that when the Ministers reach a decision as to the future path of negotiation that arrangements be made which will enable the negotiating changes to be transmitted promptly to the MTIA Executive in Canberra for advice. It was agreed that this would be a confidential arrangement not referred to publicly and that we would seek to give the maximum time for responses, bearing in mind that the course of negotiations could well be unpredictable.

[NAA: A1313/113, 82/2593, viii]