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Wednesday, 10 April 1957

Mr CREAN (MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA) - I address a question without notice to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) concerning the possible participation of the Government of the United Kingdom in what is known as a European free trade area. Is the Minister aware that a memorandum has been prepared by the United Kingdom Government in which it is said, amongst other things, that Her Majesty's Government could not contemplate entering arrangements which would in principle make it impossible for the United Kingdom to treat imports from the Commonwealth at least as favorably as those from Europe? However, Her Majesty's Government believed it was fully practicable for the United Kingdom and many countries which are members of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation to enter a free trade area; they would be free to keep their own separate and different tariffs on imports from outside the area. I ask the Minister in particular whether any consultations have taken place between Australia and the United Kingdom concerning the effects on Australia of United Kingdom participation in a European free trade area. Will the Minister seek clarification of the meaning of the declaration that the United Kingdom will treat Australian imports at least as favorably as those from Europe, bearing in mind that there can be a considerable difference if " at least as favorably " is taken to mean " no more favorably "7 Finally, what are the likely effects on Australia's trade directly with countries that will be members of what is generally known as the common market, which includes such countries, as France, Germany and Italy?

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