647.116/135a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Sydney (Moffat)

Please convey the following formally to the Government of Australia unless you doubt the wisdom of all or any part:

“A list, released by the Australian Customs Representative in New York, contains numerous items of interest to the United States to which the customs representative states that certain import restrictions will be applied by the Government of Australia under a tariff measure tabled May 22, 1936.

The Government of the United States recognizes the right of every nation to determine its commercial policy and to enact measures and administer them in any way which the Governments concerned see fit for the purpose of carrying out these policies. Nevertheless, in view of the conviction which it has frequently urged upon other governments that only a mitigation of existing trade barriers can restore an adequate volume of international commerce for the benefit of all nations, the Government of the United States deplores the fact that the Government of Australia has seen fit to impose new and substantial restraints upon its import trade. Even more deeply does the Government of the United States deplore the fact that the Government of Australia has announced to the people of Australia and to the world that one of the primary purposes of the new measure is to restrict imports from the United States or to divert some of them to other countries.

In various communications to the Government of Australia and to other Governments, the Government of the United States has pointed out that it attaches the greatest importance, in any program for a revival of world trade, to the establishment of a regime of equality of treatment in international commercial relations as a foundation for a broad and constructive commercial policy. This Government has, accordingly, adopted the policy of giving equal treatment to the commerce of all nations which do not discriminate against its commerce. Fourteen trade agreements have been concluded by the President of the United States under the authority granted to him by the Act of June 12, 1934, the text and purport of which must now be entirely familiar to the Government of Australia. The concessions made in the trade agreements which have been concluded have been extended to Australia without qualification and it is the intention of the United States Government to continue this practice so long as it is able, under a reasonable interpretation of the Act of June 12, 1934, to determine that United States commerce continues to enjoy equal treatment at the hands of the Government of Australia.

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The Government of the United States will therefore assume, until there is evidence to the contrary, that the import control system established by the recent action of the Government of Australia will be applied without discrimination against the commerce of the United States.

Both the Government and the people of the United States have at all times entertained genuine feelings of friendship toward the Government and people of Australia and in the best of faith have been governed by such friendship in all relations between the two countries. Naturally, no two nations in the world undertake to maintain a strict balance of trade between themselves. There could not possibly arise in this connection, therefore, any relation whatever between trade balances and the friendly relations between such two countries.

This is especially true in the light of the principle of trade equality which this Government applies to trade between the two countries. The Government of the United States would not be frank, therefore, if it did not express its surprise and disappointment that the Australian Government in presenting its case to the Parliament and to the people left the impression that there exists on the part of the Government and people of the United States an unsympathetic feeling born of indifference toward Australia’s present difficulties.

It is not conceivable that in giving expression to these utterances there was any intention to give offense either by questioning the friendship of the American people or their good faith in its observance.”