Volume #21 - 120.|
NATIONS UNIES ET AUTRES ORGANISATIONS INTERNATIONALES
ACCORD GÉNÉRAL SUR LES TARIFS DOUANIERS ET LE COMMERCE
DIXIÈME SESSION DES PARTIES CONTRACTANTES
Note du secrétaire d'État par intérim aux Affaires extérieures|
pour le Cabinet
CABINET DOCUMENT NO. 218-55|
le 24 octobre 1955|
TENTH SESSION OF GATT|
The Tenth Session of the Contracting Parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade begins in Geneva on October 27. This will be one of the regular business sessions which take place periodically to administer the Agreement, to consider complaints and to seek solutions of particular points of difficulty.
I recommend that a Canadian delegation should attend this session to participate in the discussion of agenda items, to represent Canadian interests, and to seek as in the past to strengthen the GATT arrangements as much as possible.
In the lengthy agenda there are several items of some importance from a Canadian point of view:
(a) Belgian and Luxembourg Applications for Waivers
With respect to a considerable number of agricultural and fishery products the Belgian Government has requested a waiver from its obligation not to maintain quantitative import restrictions. It has asked that a waiver be granted for seven years.
It will be recalled that at the Ninth Session the Contracting Parties took a decision that five-year waivers, to which strict conditions would attach could be granted in certain circumstances to countries removing the import restrictions they had maintained for balance of payments reasons. The purpose of such waivers would be to make more gradual the impact on sensitive domestic industries of the elimination of the so-called "hard core" of import restrictions.
While the Canadian interest in the commodities involved is not substantial, a special waiver for Belgium (outside the terms of the "hard-core" decision) would set an unfortunate precedent of which other countries might take advantage later.
I suggest that the Canadian delegation should therefore resist any proposal to grant such a special waiver. If, however, most of the contracting parties seem prepared to consider a special waiver instead of a waiver under the "hard-core" decision, the Canadian delegation should do its best to keep the terms of such a waiver as close as possible to the requirements and criteria of the "hard-core" decision.
Luxembourg has also requested a waiver, in this case a permanent one. This request raises similar difficulties, and the Canadian delegation should be guided by the foregoing considerations when it is examined.
(b) Disposal of Agricultural Surpluses
On the initiative of Australia a discussion of the disposal of agricultural surpluses has been included in the agenda. The Canadian delegation should participate in this discussion in a manner consistent with the statements made by Canadian Ministers in the recent meeting of the U.S.-Canada Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs, having also in mind the bilateral discussions in Washington on the surplus disposal of grains.162
(c) Proposed Agreement on International Commodity Arrangements
A the GATT Review Session early this year a Working Party was established to draft an agreement on the basic principles that should apply in the negotiation of any international commodity agreements; for example, the principle of equal representation for producers and consumers. Support of this proposed agreement on basic principles would not, of course, commit countries to participate in any particular commodity arrangement.
The United States decided not to take part in these discussions, since they thought this would increase their presentational difficulties in submitting the GATT organizational proposals to Congress. Although we had doubts about the practical value of these discussions, most GATT members were very anxious to have them and the Canadian representatives were authorized to participate in the Working Party.
As the draft agreement now stands, there are certain features which may ultimately make it unacceptable to Canada unless modified. Further debate on the draft agreement is expected, but it seems unlikely that any firm decision on Canadian acceptance will be called for at this session.
I recommend that, as on past occasions, the Chairman of the Canadian delegation should be Mr. L.D. Wilgress (who will no doubt be re-elected Chairman of the Contracting Parties); that Dr. C.M. Isbister of the Department of Trade and Commerce should be Vice Chairman of the delegation; and that the following officials from Ottawa should be included in the delegation:
Mr. A.B. Hockin Department of Finance
Mr. C.A. Annis Department of Finance
Mr. R.E. Latimer Department of Trade & Commerce;
and that Mr. G.N. Vogel, Department of Trade and Commerce and Mr. C.F. Wilson, Commercial Counsellor at Copenhagen, both of whom will be in Geneva for the U.N. Wheat Conference, should assist the delegation as may be necessary.
I also recommend that the delegation be instructed:
(a) to participate in the discussion of agenda items, to represent Canadian interests and to seek as in the past to strengthen the GATT arrangements as much as possible;
(b) to resist any proposal to grant a special waiver to Belgium or Luxembourg, but if the concession of such a waiver cannot be prevented to do its best to keep its terms as close as possible to the requirements and criteria of the "hard-core" decision;
(c) to participate in the discussion on the disposal of agricultural surpluses in a manner consistent with the statements made by Canadian Ministers in the recent meeting of the U.S.-Canada Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs, having also in mind the bilateral discussions in Washington on the surplus disposal of grains;
(d) to participate constructively in the further discussion of the draft agreement on commodity arrangements, but to reserve any decision about Canadian participation in an agreement.163