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Breakdown of sugar talks

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Breakdown of sugar talks '6 December 1977 — T he breakdow n o f talks on iAustralia’s vital sugar agreem ent with Malaysia pro­

vided further proof that only a Federal L abor

Government could adequately negotiate A ustralia’s foreign trade relations, the L eader o f the Opposition, ;the Hon. E. G. W hitlam , said today. He was com ­ menting on the failure o f talks in Sydney earlier in the

day betw een a special M alaysian delegation and executives o f CSR. M r W hitlam said the whole $500m sugar deal w ith M alaysia was now in

jeopardy. The agreem ent, for the provision o f at least 1.65 million tonnes betw een 1975 and 1980, was signed by Labor’s M inister for N orthern D evelopment, D r Patterson, in K uala L um pur in 1974. M r W hitlam said it now appeared likely that Malaysia would refuse to accept any more shipm ents under the agree­ ment, at least until a m ajor price alteration was nego­ tiated. M r W hitlam pointed out that it had been the previous L abor G overnm ent which had secured valu­ able new m arkets for A ustralia’s great prim ary prod­ ucts. These included m ajor sugar agreem ents with Malaysia, South K orea and Japan, M r W hitlam said:

Indeed, the agreement with Malaysia, which is o f funda­ mental importance to our industry, was the direct result of private talks between myself and the late Prime Minister of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur in early 1974.

The Liberal-National Country Party Government nearly blew it with Japan and exactly the same thing looks like happening now. Mr Fraser has so conducted Australia’s relations with ASEAN and so comported him­ self in the ASEAN capitals that Australia is now threatened with trade retaliation from the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Yesterday’s breakdown indi­ cates this process has already started.

We have already shown that only a Labor government can secure harmonious made negotiations with Europe, , Japan, North America and ASEAN. Apart from sugar, this has been shown by the new markets we opened up for wool and wheat, the new markets we secured in the Soviet Union and in China.

It is now obvious that only a Labor government after next Saturday can restore Australia’s trade relations

through proper negotiations with customer countries. The restoration of a Labor government will transform the atti­ tude of Australia’s trading partners in the Asian and Pacific region. .