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Wednesday, 10 October 1956


Mr McEWEN - Both the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government are aware of the proposal to which the honorable member has referred, which may be briefly described as one for a free-trade area in Europe. This Government has been kept advised of the details of the proposal, and made aware of the United Kingdom's thinking in respect of its own interests. This has been done in correspondence and cables, and, more recently, by personal contacts during a certain conference at Washington at which the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, the President of the Board of Trade, and Australian representatives were present. Contact is still being maintained in London. Seeing that, under the proposal, it is intended to exclude foodstuffs altogether, there is very little of Australian trade to the United Kingdom or to the sponsor countries which would be affected directly. Insofar as there are indirect implications in relation to the Australian interest, I can assure the honorable member that this is being closely watched. As a matter of fact, only last night I conferred with officials of my department on this very important matter.







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