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61 Cablegram from Doidge to Spender

Wellington, 5 May 1950

47. IMMEDIATE SECRET

Begins.

Commonwealth Consultative Committee

It has not yet been possible to get Governmental consideration of the proposals made in your telegram No.641 but I feel bound at this stage to give you my own reactions.

2. The immediate problem is, I agree, to afford immediate aid, and to fill the gap until long term assistance backed by international finance is available. I sympathise fully with Australia's desire to mobilize greater British Commonwealth efforts to this end, and by such initiative to demonstrate our willingness to share the burdens and to provide the methods and plans of assistance which the United States would back financially. 1 can assure you that New Zealand will endeavour to show its sympathy to the fullest practicable extent of our capacity.

3. As I made clear at Colombo, our present financial position and our limited resources prevent New Zealand from making a substantial contribution in the way of finance, while our trading position, including the type of products available, allows no real scope for the provision of credits. Our uncommitted resources, from which contributions of food and other emergency supplies might be drawn, are extremely limited, but New Zealand will do its utmost to provide assistance in this regard.

4. We place the utmost emphasis on the need for immediate aid by way of technical assistance in the supply of experts and the training of Asian personnel, and I hope that our respective governments will be willing to make the considerable sacrifices necessary in order to contribute effectively in this way. The need for such assistance is immediately apparent and I would think that it could be applied without waiting for the development of long-term plans.

5. As to the programme for long-term developments for South and South East Asia, I agree that it should be prepared to the frillest extent with technical aid from Commonwealth sources. I have only just received the United Kingdom statement on their attitude towards the problem2 and I am bound to say that I am favourably impressed with their method of approach as I am with the attitude that you have taken in regard to the instructions to your delegate at ECAFE.3 I would like to stress also my belief that very careful account should be taken of programmes already developed and o f surveys made by several of the countries in the area and the several international organisations concerned. Unless this is done [indecipherable] duplication and waste of effort and confusion. I feel also that national programmes are the responsibility o f individual countries in the area and that it might be wiser for Commonwealth countries to limit themselves to affording aid wherever asked and to assist in coordination of national plans into a programme for the whole area.

6. I am doubtful for the reasons I have outlined, whether New Zealand could support the proposal for the setting up of a fund comprising convertible sterling and the establishment of a formal organisation to control it. Moreover this approach appears entirely to parallel the United Nations programme, whereas it appears to me that the Commonwealth should rather put its resources into a programme that would supplement the United Nations programme in terms of resolution A(iii) and (iv) of Colombo.4 Some organisation will be necessary but emphasis should be laid on speedy application of the available resources which should be possible with a minimum of formal organisation.

7. It is the New Zealand view that with the postponement of the technical assistance conference to June, Commonwealth countries should determine the relationship of the two schemes and the immediate work which the Commonwealth can do during the period before United Nations scheme can be effectively operating. Committee should at the same time consider longer range plan particularly directed towards encouraging the participation of United States in the granting of financial aid and investment of capital and also at the same time making provision for participation by countries outside the Commonwealth. Ends.

8. Additional Paragraph. Recalling the attitude adopted at Colombo by Canada and South Africa and having regard to the statement contained in the United Kingdom communication we have just received I. doubt whether the British Commonwealth countries would all be able to contribute sufficiently towards the central fund you have in mind. The Canadian High Commissioner called upon me today asking for an outline of our views but I felt it wiser not to indicate them lest they should prejudice Canadian consideration of the proposals you have put up. For this reason also I have not repeated this message to other Governments but am giving a copy of the preceding paragraphs to the United Kingdom representatives here. Message ends.

[NAA: A1838, 708/9/2 part 2]

1 Document 58.

2 Presumably Document 42.

3 Document 56.

4 See Document 19.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History