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Thursday, 19 November 1936

Senator GRANT (Tasmania) .- The Government is to be congratulated upon having negotiated the trade agreement which we are now being asked to ratify. An examination of our trade figures with Belgium for the last four years indicates- that that country has purchased goods to the value of £17,000,000 from Australia, while Australia lias purchased from Belgium goods to the value of £1,500,000, leaving a favorable balance to us of £15,500,000. There is everything to be said in favour of cultivating trade with such a country. If Australia had not been able to place its primary products in Belgium it would, undoubtedly, have had to find a market elsewhere at a price probably lower than that paid by Belgium.

Senator Sir George Pearce - But at a lower price.

Senator GRANT - I believe that there is a market for everything at a price. Tasmania has a particular interest in the trade with Belgium because of the quantity of barley that Belgium purchases from Australia. It is important to Tasmania that a profitable market for barley shall be available overseas. Last year Belgium bought Australian barley to the value of £162,000, and its purchases of greasy, scoured and topped wool totalled £3,450,000.. Belgium, therefore, provides a most acceptable market for the Australian wool-growers. In the circumstances, it is desirable that Australia should afford to Belgium such trade considerations as are possible to it, and the Government is to be congratulated upon having negotiated the agreement now under our consideration. Though the ratification of this agreement may adversely affect the interests of a few glass workers in this country, the advantages that will accrue to the primary producers as the result of this trade treaty are of such magnitude that it is only to be expected that we should give something in return. "We cannot expect a one-way trade only. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill. I hope that it will be the forerunner of many other measures of the same kind. Reciprocal trade agreements of this description are of immense value to the Commonwealth.

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