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Wednesday, 1 October 1958

Mr Coutts s asked the acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -

1.   Has his attention been directed to the contents of the Minerals Subsidy Bill which was rejected last week by the House of Representatives of the United States of America?

2.   Does the rejection of this proposal compel the United States President to accept a report of the United States Tariff Commission which will raise the duties on lead and zinc imported from Australia?

3.   Is it substantially correct, as stated by the Minister for Trade in Bundaberg, Queensland, on the 22nd June last, that the acceptance of the Tariff Commission's proposal would seriously damage Australia's export of lead and zinc to the United States?

4.   If so, what action is being taken to ensure the satisfactory marketing of the products of the Australian silver and lead mines?

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

1.   Yes.

2.   The United States President said on 1st June, 1958, that he was suspending a decision on the recommendation of the United States Tariff Commission. He pointed out that a final decision would be appropriate after the Congress had completed its consideration of the proposed minerals stabilization plan. The Congress did not enact this plan. The President then indicated on 22nd. September, 1958, that he had decided to accept the unanimous findings of the Tariff Commission respecting injury to the domestic producers of lead and zinc and announced his decision to establish import quotas for these metals.

3.   Yes.

4.   Everything possible has been done to put the Australian case to the American Government in the clearest and strongest terms. During all stages there has been continuous consultation in Washington at the official level, personal interviews with the American authorities by the Australian Ambassador in Washington and a personal visit by the right honorable the Minister for Trade. With the endorsement of the Minister for Trade, leading representatives of the Australian industry visited Washington. Separate notes were lodged with the United States .Government about the Tariff Commission's recommendations and about the recent decision to impose import quotas from 1st October. Proposals are now under consideration which have been forwarded by an international meeting in London to establish a more stable basis for world trade in lead and zinc. The President of the United States has indicated to the right honorable the Prime Minister that if it should not be possible promptly to reach a multilateral agreement, the - United States stands .ready to review .with Australia and other interested governments, on a bilateral basis the most equitable way of dealing with the problem.

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