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Wednesday, 3 April 1968

Mr McEWEN - Repeatedly, day after day, members of the Labor Party, in the course of asking questions on this general subject matter of trade with Japan, put into my mouth words which I have never used. They use words such as 'attack the Japanese Government' or, as today, 'praise the Japanese Government'. On no occasion have I done this. I have on all occasions stated the objective facts. I have done this day after day in this House. I do so today, in the case of sugar, as I said yesterday the truth of the matter is that Japan buys more sugar from us than any other country. Japan buys from us in the same circumstances as every other country in the world buys sugar except the United Kingdom and I think two other countries with whom we have preferential tariffs. These countries arc New Zealand and Canada.

Dr Patterson - And the United States?

Mr McEWEN - The United States of America buys sugar under her special arrangements which are not peculiar to Australia. The special arrangements under which the United States buys sugar are mostly with Latin American republics and Australia. But Japan gives us neither favoured treatment nor unfavourable treatment by comparison with the other countries, not being British Commonweal'^ countries or the United States, to which we sell sugar. Japan, unlike these other countries, imposes an extraordinarily high succession of duties. It imposes a surcharge, a customs duty, an excise duty on refined sugar and finally a purchase tax or whatever the particular description is.

As 1 have pointed out to successive Japanese senior political figures, the result is thai the lower we price our sugar the more money immediately passes into the Japanese treasury. No matter how low the price is for our sugar, the- Japanese consumer does not benefit from it. He still pays a high price for his sugar; This is not an attack on Japan. It is a recounting in this House of what I have said within the offices of successive Japanese Prime Ministers and of what I said, without the same detail, at the last sugar conference in Geneva. Next week I leave on the next attempt to achieve an international sugar agreement in Geneva. There I hope - and I trust that the Labor Party will at least hope as earnestly as I do - that we will, through a fair international sugar agreement, reach a basis on which those who sell sugar as Australia does can be assured that the price will not fall below an agreed minimum and on which those who buy sugar can be protected against what happened 3 or 4 years ago when there was an incredibly high price of more than £100 a ton. This is our concept of a fair international sugar agreement. It is the policy objective of (his Government to try to achieve it.

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