Cablegram E34 WASHINGTON, 30 April 1943, 1.56 a.m.
Regarding the circular telegram from the Dominions Office  I
would suggest that there is the danger of political repercussions
in now commencing conversations in regard to the post-war
commercial policy, including the very difficult Article VII of the
Mutual Aid Agreement. It will hardly be possible for conversations
either in London or Washington to be kept absolutely confidential.
That means that there will be discussions and election controversy
on Australia's policy in relation to tariffs including imperial
preference. The very object of the proposal in the telegram is
that Halifax should be authorised to take the initiative and
approach Hull on the highest level, and that he should do so after
being armed with the views of the Dominion governments and,
apparently, the Government of India also. The procedure suggested
is not satisfactory. When departmental officers are persuaded to
recommend a scheme, they are not interested in the political
aspects of the matter, yet Australia's postwar commercial policy
involves most difficult and delicate political problems for any
government in Australia.
I see considerable danger in the proposal and I would recommend
leaving the whole matter alone until after the Government can
speak with the authority it can obtain only after a mandate from
If, contrary to my view, it is thought that conversations can
safely proceed, they should take place at Washington where
department officials, including Coombs, can be in closest touch
with the British officials.