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Thursday, 4 October 1956

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade) - Broadly, the facts of the situation are. that the: United States administration has concluded an arrange-, ment with the Indian Government which isdesigned to establish in India what are described as security, stocks of wheat. I take it that that means security against the contingency of famine in that country. Speaking from memory, I think that the total amount provided for as security stocks is about 130,000,000 bushels of wheat to bc provided1 over three years. The actual facts have not: yet been published, but I" understand that payment for. the wheat is to. be made by the Indian Government, not on commercial terms - that is, not in dollars but in Indian, currency:. By arrangement with the United States administration, most, of the money paid is to be available to the Indian Government for certain purposes of its own development.. To that extent, this is an example of a completely, noncommercial transaction in wheat.

Attached to this, general arrangement is an, undertaking by the; Indian Government, that iti will buy,, oyer the same- period', on commercial- terms, at least: 20,000,000. bushels of wheat a year: There is no: restriction, as to the. source; from: which the Indian. Government may, buy this quantity annually, on commercial terms;, other than' that. 5,5.00,000 bushels, of. the: 2Q:000,000 bushelsmust be bought from the United States: ot America.

The policy of this Government, as I have stated before, is that it does not" object to the-, expression of United' States generosity in providing, on: whatever terms it: elects. aid to. a county or- people in4 need who, otherwise, would not be: able to make a pur-chase. We have made that quite clear: The. only- objection we take is. to the provision, on non-commercial terms, of com: modities that are. in the. Australian export regimen, when such- action would result in distorting ox destroying Australia's trade opportunities. This, particular transaction has in it the elements of both these policy considerations, and. the attitude of this Government is quite clear: It. asks no more than that the United States Administration should make us aware of its. intentions in such circumstances, as those, give us an opportunity to express our point of view and state, where our interests lie, and also give us. an. assurance that proper weight will, be attached to our. view and our inrterests. In this particular case, I. am bound to. say here in the. Parliament, as I have said. to. the United States Administration's, representatives,, that we. were not given adequate opportunity, to. express, our point of view.

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