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Wednesday, 23 November 1960

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade) - I think I can say that both the Australian Government and the United States Administration are in agreement in desiring to see maximum political cohesion in Europe, arising partly from the strengthening of the European economy by understandings between the European countries, in which I would include the United Kingdom. At the same time, however, the Australian Government shares with the United States Government some apprehension lest policies of economic co-operation in Europe result in a further constriction of the European market as an importer of foodstuffs, fibres and bulk commodities. The Commission of the European Economic Community - which represents the countries of the " Inner Six " - has recently composed some proposals to be put to the various governments. I understand that no decisions have yet been reached, but the view of the Australian Government and, I understand, the view of the United States Administra tion, are simultaneously being put through the proper channels to the effect that there ought to be preserved increased opportunities for freer trade. The cold truth of the matter is that since the immediate pre-war years, notwithstanding the increased population of Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, and greater prosperity generally, those areas which have been our traditional and historic markets have been contracting. Western Europe to-day imports 4,000,000 tons less in foodstuffs than it did before the war. This is due to some extent, we believe, to an excessive policy of agricultural protectionism. The case which is being put is designed to temper the enthusiasms for selfcontainment in Western Europe.

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