641.0031/131: Airgram

The Chargé in Canada ( Clark ) to the Secretary of State

A–20. Department’s A–121, June 14, 6 p.m.,9 regarding post-war commercial policy. I discussed this matter very informally yesterday afternoon with Norman Robertson, Under Secretary of State for External Affairs. Mr. Robertson informed me that there will be no [Page 1101] pertinent developments in Ottawa. He said the Canadians had gone to London for purely preliminary and exploratory discussions on the relation in the post-war period of multilateral agreements to the existing system of bilateral agreements. He stressed that no consideration whatever would be given in the London discussions to specific agreements or to specific tariff items except possibly as exemplifying points brought out in general discussion. He said that the Canadian instructions did not contemplate the discussion of the possibility of supplementary trade agreements with us.

Robertson feels that effective post-war commercial policy may require bold measures. He hopes that we will not continue to be bound by what he termed the “cumbersome procedure and limited scope” of the present Trade Agreements Act. He hopes that we will be able to take bold and prompt action and believes that he will be able to do so if as part of a broad plan. He realizes that Canada may have to strive for a larger share of the market in the United States and said that the London conversations did not represent an effort to confront us with a previously reached British agreement. He reiterated that the conversations in London were preliminary and exploratory only.

Mr. Robertson envisages the possibility that multilateral agreements may replace bilateral agreements in commercial policy, but feels also that multilateral agreements might be on broad bases implemented by bilateral agreements. He said that before Canada had been in a position to negotiate its broad trade agreements with the United States it had been necessary to do a lot of preliminary spade work on its bilateral agreements within the British Commonwealth. The situation had not changed and Canada would likely have to follow a similar procedure in post-war commercial agreements, whether multilateral or bilateral. He stressed again, however, that matters had not yet reached that stage.

I shall report further any information which may be obtained regarding the progress of the discussions in London.

  1. See footnote 6, above.