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Wednesday, 11 November 1959

Mr HAROLD HOLT - As I think all honorable members are aware, one of the features of the post-war period has been the problem experienced by most countries of a shortage of dollars, with the need to maintain some discrimination against dollar goods. That situation, as I explained in some detail yesterday, has been very notably transformed by the movement in the balance of payments over the last couple of years, the United States having had a national deficit of about three billion dollars in the year before last and expecting to have a deficit of the order of four to four and a half billion dollars in the current year. As a consequence of that movement there has been increased pressure from the United States, and to a lesser extent from Canada, for the removal of restrictions by those countries which still maintain them.

Australia has been proceeding in that direction, and was able to state at the recent meeting of the International Monetary Fund that we are, to employ the jargon of the day, about 90 per cent, liberalized and are looking to a progressive removal of remaining restrictions. The question of the movement of countries still employing the transitional provision of Article XIV. to Article VIII. was discussed by the recent Commonwealth Finance Ministers' Conference in London, and further discussions are now proceeding on that matter inside the Commonwealth governments concerned. However, I am not in a position at this point to state to the honorable gentleman what I am sure he will appreciate is a substantial matter of Government policy, but I can tell him that the subject is actively under the Government's consideration.

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