Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Trade Agreements (Hawkins)

Participants: The Honorable Sir Ronald Lindsay, British Ambassador;
Mr. Francis B. Sayre;
Mr. Harry C. Hawkins.

In accordance with a suggestion previously made by Mr. Sayre to the Ambassador, the latter remained for a short time after Mr. Officer had left, for further discussion of the question of trade-agreement negotiations with Australia. Mr. Sayre emphasized to him that the political considerations discussed in the conference with Mr. Officer were very real ones and it is desirable that the Ambassador and the British Government fully understand this in order that they may give such assistance as possible in making the Australian Government understand the situation. Mr. Sayre stressed what he said in the conference with Mr. Officer, namely that we feel that an announcement of negotiations with Australia just at this time would be subjecting our agreement with the United Kingdom to undue risk. He pointed out that the desideratum of paramount importance is the trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom. Mr. Sayre explained further that what we fear is a combination between the opponents of the United Kingdom agreement in the Eastern States with the interests in the wool growing States which would be aroused by the announcement of negotiations with Australia. He said that there are two stages by which we might find the trade-agreements program jeopardized. The first is between now and the adjournment of Congress, during which there is always the possibility of a resolution or a rider to a bill being adopted which would cripple the program. The other is at the time of the Congressional elections in the fall when the opponents of the program might make a successful political issue of it at the polls.

The Ambassador indicated that he quite understood all this and felt sure his Government would be prepared to assist in appeasing the Australians to the extent of its ability. He said, however, that we probably overrate the ability of the British Government to do this. He also said he understood that the agreement with the United Kingdom is the trunk and that an agreement with Australia is only a branch and, while the branch is important, we must not jeopardize the trunk for the sake of it.