Reference: Your Despatch No. 22 of January 28.?
At the meeting of the International Committee of GATT which was held in Geneva during the first two weeks of this month the Belgian Delegation informed the Contracting Parties that the following measures had been implemented with a view to carrying out the commitment entered into at the Seventh Session to relax substantially the restrictions on dollar imports:
"1. A list of items which are not restricted upon importation on account of the fact that they are payable in dollars, has been drawn up and published by the Belgian Office for Foreign Trade (Office Belge du Commerce Extérieur). The value of the goods included in this list represents from 65 to 70 per cent of the value of the dollar imports of the Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union (on the basis of the first six months of 1951). Before such measures were initiated, 25 per cent only of the BLEU imports (first six months of 1951) came under this system.
"2. A list of items still submitted to prior approval (List B) has been drawn up. This list includes all the products which do not come under the List A system. Hence it incorporates items, importation of which was automatically denied under the previously existing system. The Belgian Government will issue licences for imports of items on List B in as liberal a spirit as possible.
"The measures referred to above entered into force on 1 February 1953 in conformity with the commitments undertaken by the Belgian Delegation at the Seventh Session of the Contracting Parties."
2. The measures taken by the Belgians have been examined here and it is noted that they take three forms. First, many commodities have been placed upon a free list of goods which may be imported into Belgium from the dollar area on the basis of bank declarations completely free from Government control. Prior to the recent change, goods in this category have been restricted if originating in the dollar area, but not if coming from any other country. Moreover, a number of goods, while remaining subject to import licences regardless of origin, will be admitted from the dollar area as freely as from any other source. Dollar imports falling into this category have hitherto also been restricted on exchange considerations. Finally, certain imports from the dollar area, which remain subject to dollar import restrictions, are being imported under a monthly quota of 100 per cent by value of average monthly imports during the first six months of 1951, i.e., before the dollar restrictions came into force.
3. Most of the goods in which Canada is interested including the four items mentioned in our Despatch No. E-489 of December 3, 1952, are included in the first two lists. I think it would be appropriate, therefore, when you have an opportunity to conveniently do so, to informally advise the Belgians that we are gratified with this significant progress in returning to a free regime and we have noted that they have liberalized not only the commodities about which we were especially concerned but in addition a good many other commodities of interest to us. You might also state that we hope that the Belgian Government will liberalize before very long the remaining items subject to quota.
4. In any detailed conversations which you may have with Belgian officials you might mention our special interest in certain of the commodities excluded from the recent relaxations, including antibiotics, polystyrene, used jute bags for packing, typewriters, and calculating and accounting machines.
for Under-Secretary of State
for External Affairs