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289 External Affairs Department to Dixon

Cablegram 1190 CANBERRA, 30 September 1943


We have been considering the position of our proposed Trade Agreement with the United States of America, and the possible developments arising out of the present Washington conversations between United Kingdom and United States of America.

The advices in your telegram 1094 of 25th September [1] indicate reluctance on the part of the United Kingdom to proceed with bilateral trade talks at the present time. We feel that Australia's position has not been given full weight nor do we agree as to the tactical merit of shelving the bilateral negotiations at this stage.

It has to be remembered:

(a) That United Kingdom and Canada already have agreement with United States of America.

(b) That Australia assisted in facilitating agreement between United States of America and U.K.

(c) That the conclusion of a bilateral agreement between United States of America and Australia will not prejudice a subsequent broader or a multilateral agreement and may actually assist in such objective.

(d) That unless agreement can be completed shortly bargaining power of Australia will be materially impaired.

In the circumstances, every endeavour should be made by McCarthy and Fletcher [2] to reach an agreement as soon as possible. You will, of course, actively assist them.

It is expected by us that, in view of our past co-operative attitude, United Kingdom and Canada will be prepared to make concessions necessary to our agreement with United States of America.

New Zealand is being advised of our views regarding existing preferences granted to Australia by New Zealand. [3]

On Raisins, we would probably be prepared to concede a reduction to 1/2d. per lb. provided United States of America makes a satisfactory response on butter in her agreement with New Zealand and the proposed United States agreement with Australia is acceptable to us. However, you will do your utmost to obtain the most favourable terms and before agreement is finalised, Cabinet here will be asked to approve of all details.

Customs Department have forwarded schedule to Fletcher by air mail, September 17th, under cover of Trans Note No. 2 [4] and we take it that he and McCarthy can proceed immediately towards completion of negotiations.

Please inform Law of decision to continue with negotiations which have already been very protracted. [5]

1 On file AA:A989, 43/735/55/1, i. It contained a report of a briefing on the U.K.-U.S. economic discussions given to Dominion representatives in the United States by R. K. Law. Dixon concluded that the U.K. Govt was opposed to bilateral trade negotiations with the United States because it wanted to retain possible reductions in preferential tariff margins as a bargaining counter in negotiating a multilateral agreement, which it saw as being of greater benefit to the United Kingdom.

2 See Document 74, note 13.

3 See cablegram 170 of 9 October on file AA:A989, 43/735/70/2.

4 See Abbott's memorandum to Hodgson of 18 September 1943 and attached draft Cabinet submission on the file cited in note 3.

5 See Dixon's cablegrams 1130 of 1 October and 1145 of 6 October on the file cited in note 3.

[AA:A989, 43/735/70/2]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History