Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs ( O’Gara ) to the Director of the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State ( McWilliams )


If the Secretary should ask what, if anything, has been done to follow up on the comment that Mr. Bevin made to him about the issue of Imperial preferences at the Torquay tariff negotiations, you might advise him as follows.

A telegram was sent to the United States delegation at Torquay giving the substance of the conversation.
Harold Wilson, head of the United Kingdom delegation to the conference,1 stressed the importance which the British attach to preferences in his opening address and also in informal conversations with Mr. Thorp.2
However, Mr. Wilson indicated to Mr. Thorp that the United Kingdom is willing to grant concessions in margins of preference when it is clearly advantageous to do so.
The delegation is proceeding to handle the matter on an item-by-item basis rather than in the more controversial context of the general issue.
If the matter should be raised with the Department again by the British, they should be referred to the delegation.3

  1. Mr. Wilson, a British Cabinet Minister, was President of the Board of Trade.
  2. Specifically, the views of Mr. Harold Wilson were communicated in a dinner meeting with the Americans at Torquay on September 28. Thorp was Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and Chairman of the United States Delegation. Also present were the deputies of the two principals, Carl D. Corse (U.S.) and Sir Stephen Holmes (U.K.). (Memorandum of conversation, Torquay, September 28, 1950, International Trade Files, Lot 57D284, Box 138, Folder “UK 1950 TN/8100/Preliminary Negotiations”)
  3. The Torquay tariff negotiations extended until April 21, 1951. The British imperial preference and other substantive issues that may be included will be documented in Foreign Relations, 1951, volume i .