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Friday, 4 November 1938

Mr Nock k asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

1.   With what countries has Australia made special trade agreements?

2.   To what other countries and on what basis does the intermediate tariff rate apply?

3.   Using the present exchange rates as a basis, what would be the approximate percentage of our tariff based on their currency prices at their port of shipment, on the following goods from Great Britain, Japan, Germany, United States of America, France and Italy: - Kerosene, tractors, wire netting, felt hats, mowers, fencing wire, electric washing machines, cutlery, refrigerators, cut glass, motor chassis and wireless valves?

Mr White - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1   . Australia has made trade agreements with the following countries: -

(i)   United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including in addition the non-self-governing countries of the British Colonial Empire (1932).

(ii)   Canada (1931).

(iii)   New Zealand (1933).

(iv)   South Africa., including in addition South- West Africa (1935).

(v)   Belgium and Luxemburg (1936).

(   vi ) Czechoslovakia, ( 1 936 ) .

(vii)   France, including, in addition, Algeria, Corsica and Monaco (1936).

A temporary arrangement of an informal character exists with Japan (1938).

2.   Insofar as the intermediate tariff rates ore in force they apply to the following countries: - Albania; Algeria; Anglo-Egyptian Sudan; Argentina; Austria; Belgium; Bolivia; Britishnon-self-governing colonies and protectorates and the mandated territories of Palestine, Trans- Jordan, Tanganyika, the Cameroons and Togoland under British mandate; Bulgaria; Canada; China; Corsica; Costa Rica; Czechoslovakia; Danzig, Free City of; Denmark; Egypt; Estonia; Finland; France; French Indo-China : Germany; Hungary; India; Iran (Persia) ; Iraq; Italy; Latvia; Liberia; Lithuania; Luxemburg; Monaco; Nauru; Netherlands; Netherlands East Indies; Newfoundland; New Caledonia; New Guinea; New Hebrides; New Zealand; Norway; Panama; Papua; Philippine Islands; Poland; Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira; Portuguese East Africa; Portuguese West Africa; Roumania; Siam; Society Islands; Southern Rhodesia; South West Africa; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland and Liechtenstein; Timor; Union of South Africa; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; United Kingdom; Venezuela; Western Samoa.

The intermediate tariff rates also apply to certain categories of piece-goods the produce of Japan.

The intermediate rates in the schedule to the Customs Tariff express the minimum duties which have been or may be conceded to countries not enjoying or not eligible to receive the British preferential tariff. It is customary for the Commonwealth when making definitive trade agreements with particular countries to grant concessions on the basis of undertakings to apply the Australian intermediate tariff to specified commodities and, in addition, to include in the agreement a general provision requiring the Commonwealth (usually on a basis of reciprocity) to concede on all goods originating in that country the lowest rates then or thereafter conceded to any other foreign country.

Various reasons underlie the application of intermediate tariff rates to countries other than those with which trade agreements have been negotiated by the Commonwealth itself.

In some cases treaties concluded by the United Kingdom before Australia acquired dominion status remain in force and bind the British Empire, including Australia, to accord most-favoured-nation treatment on a reciprocal basis to the respective countries with which the treaties remain in force. In such cases a formal obligation rests on the Commonwealth to extend to the countries concerned the lowest duties for the time being applicable to goods originating in any other foreign country.

Until the dominions commenced to negotiate treaties for themselves, it was customary for Great Britain when negotiating treaties with a foreign country to arrange the inclusion of a provision which bound the foreign country to accord most-favoured-nation treatment in respect of goods to any British dominion, so long as that dominion accorded mostfavourednation treatment to the goods of that foreign country. Many treaties containing that provision remain in force. The intermediate tariff rates conceded by Australia in compliance with the terms of definitive trade agreements have been applied to a number of countries falling within this category in order to maintain Australia's rights to mostfavourednation treatment in the respective countries.

Insofar as the intermediate tariff applies to British countries, the following are the underlying considerations: -

(   1 ) to ensure that a product originating in a British country not enjoying the Australian preferential tariff is not subjected to a higher duty than a like product of foreign origin;

(2)   to ensure that a product partly produced or manufactured in a. British country enjoying the Australian preferential tariff, but containing insufficient labour or material of that British country to qualify for entry at the preferential rates applicable to a genuine product of that British country shall not be subjected to a higher rate of duty than is charged on a like product produced or manufactured in a " most-favoured " foreign country.

Generally speaking, the intermediate tariff rates in force represent the tariff for the time being accorded by Australia to "mostfavoured " countries and apply to all countries with which Australia has trade of appreciable dimensions, except those countries which do not concede most-favoured-nation treatment to Australian commodities or which, having regard to the state of trade with Australia, maintain excessive restrictions against the importation of the major export commodities of the Commonwealth.

3.   The details necessary to the calculation of Australian customs duties in terms of a percentage of the currency prices of the countries mentioned are not available.

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