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Wednesday, 10 September 1958
Page: 1114

Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

1.   Did the Secretary for Agriculture in the United States of America recently announce that America will continue to sell surplus wheat under a scheme whereby payment is accepted in the local currency of the purchasing country, the American wheat-grower in turn being paid in dollars provided by the American Government?

2.   Has the Australian Government claimed that the United States of America is dumping wheat and other agricultural products on overseas markets at prices which are less than the costs of production?

3.   Is it considered that the adoption of such a policy by America negatives any advantage obtained by this country's participation in the International Wheat Agreement?

Mr McMahon - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Yes.

2.   Yes.

3.   No. It is considered that despite the problems posed by the existence of surpluses in North America and agricultural protectionism in many industrialized countries, the International Wheat Agreement has been a stabilizing influence on world wheat prices. In this connexion, all aspects of the world wheat situation are at present being thoroughly examined in preparation for the

United Nations Wheat Conference to be held in Geneva from 28th October, 1958, to discuss the possible negotiation of a further International Wheat Agreement.

Since the threat of disposals of surplus wheal on non-commercial terms developed, the Government has been active wherever an opportunity existed for international action to reduce possible adverse effects of such disposals on usual marketings of Australian wheat. This action included, for example, a full part in the formulating of the F.A.O. Principles of Surplus Disposal to which over 40 nations have subscribed, including those producing the surpluses and those which have been receiving aid wheat. These principles stress that solution to the problem of surplus disposal should wherever possible be sought through efforts to increase consumption rather than through measures to reduce production, but that where surpluses are disposed of under special terms arrangements should be made to avoid harmful interference with normal patterns of production and international trade.

Australia took a major initiative in the establishment of the F.A.O. Sub-committee on Surplus Disposal whose function it is to provide the necessary consultative machinery on surplus disposal transactions. This sub-committee has held regular meetings in Washington since 1954, and its endeavours have met with a fair degree of success. In addition Australia played a prominent role in negotiating and securing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade resolution which places an obligation on contracting parties to consult other interested members before carrying out surplus disposal operations. In bilateral discussions with countries supplying and receiving wheat on non-commercial terms the Government has taken every opportunity to protect the Australian wheat-growing industry. The Trade Agreements negotiated with the United Kingdom and Janan include provisions to protect Australian sales against unfair competition in these important wheat markets. Recently concluded trade a.reements with Ceylon and Malaya represent further successful efforts by the Government to assure nutlets for Australian wheat and flour.

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