The Secretary of State to the Minister in Canada (Armour)
114. On November 5, last, the United Kingdom Government submitted further proposals6 respecting the concessions to be granted in a trade agreement on the products in our essential list. These proposals constitute a substantial improvement over those previously made. We have today replied that while the concessions indicated fall considerably short of our requests and while a substantial improvement is essential, we are prepared to make public announcement of contemplated negotiations and to leave for the definitive negotiations the final determination of the concessions to be granted. We stated further that we are prepared to announce contemplated negotiations on the basis indicated on the assumption that the United Kingdom will obtain the necessary concurrence of the Empire Governments. We have also stated that we will advise the Government of Canada of our willingness to announce if agreeable to the Canadian Government, contemplated negotiations for a new or supplementary agreement with that country not later than 2 weeks after the announcement is made with respect to the United Kingdom. Negotiations with other British Dominions at this time are not at present contemplated. Copies of the British proposals and our reply are being mailed to you.
Please inform the Canadian Government immediately that if negotiations with the United Kingdom are announced this Government is prepared, not later than 2 weeks after such announcement to make public announcement of a contemplated new or supplementary agreement with Canada, and inquire whether this meets with the approval of the Canadian Government.
You should advise the appropriate officials informally that the proposals [Page 167] recently made by Robertson and his colleagues7 are being carefully studied, but that the studies have not as yet reached the stage of definite recommendations for consideration by the appropriate authorities of this Government. As we pointed out orally to Robertson and his associates, some of the products mentioned by them present serious problems for us. You may say, however, that we are prepared to enter upon negotiations with an open mind with the view of negotiating upon as broad and comprehensive a basis as possible. If it is possible to reach satisfactory agreements with the United Kingdom and Canada, we would be agreeable to signing both agreements the same day, if practicable.
You will note that the foregoing represents a marked change in the attitude which we have in the past maintained. We have been forced to the conclusion that, if we are to negotiate trade agreements with either the United Kingdom or Canada within the next year, it is essential that announcement thereof be made at an early date and that negotiations be concluded within the next 4 or 5 months.
We hope to be able to make an announcement of intention to negotiate with the United Kingdom in the next few days, probably by Monday.