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Land of Opportunity: Australia's post-war reconstruction

Overseas trade

During World War II, Australia's trade policies were distorted by the loss of markets and the shipping shortage. Imports, including those obtained through lend-lease, were needed to develop war industries and, to a lesser extent, to maintain living standards. Civilian imports declined after 1940, but imports of war supplies rose to £141 million in 1942–43. In 1943 the total value of Australian imports was £243 million, compared with £113 million in 1939. The United States had become Australia's principal supplier, followed by Britain, India and Canada. Lack of civilian labour and shipping and the need to prevent the loss of essential materials led to a decline in Australian exports in the war years. The exceptions were exports to Britain, India (where the Eastern Group Supply Council was based), Canada and the United States. War supplies made up the bulk of exports to India, but in general Australian exports were predominantly primary products. All imports and exports were subject to licence.

In May 1944 the president of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures declared that it was time for industrialists and the government to lay the foundations for the post-war export trade. Some tentative steps were taken by the government. In the same month, the Cabinet established an Export Committee to consider all proposals for exports, with the exception of lend-lease supplies. Among committee members, divisions within the government over trade policy were immediately evident: the Manpower Directorate consistently opposed any relaxation in export control, whereas RV Keane, who chaired the committee, pushed for export expansion. Approval was given to increased exports to India, the Netherlands East Indies and New Zealand, but the conflicting interests of several departments remained a problem for the government.

In a Cabinet submission in June 1945, Keane referred to the division of control over imports (Trade and Customs) and exports (Commerce and Agriculture) and suggested the creation of a Department of Overseas Trade. He met with resistance from his colleague, the Minister of Commerce and Agriculture. In May 1948 Allen Brown told Dedman that a single Department of Trade and Commerce should be set up, with responsibility for import and export policy and industrial development. Dedman did not act on the suggestion and Brown had to wait until 1956, when the two departments finally merged to form the Department of Trade.

The proposal for an Australian Export Trading Corporation also created divisions among departments. In May 1945 Dedman passed on to Cabinet the recommendation of the Secondary Industries Commission that a corporation be created and funded by the government to trade either as a principal or as an agent of Australian manufacturers. The main concern of the commission was to discover export markets that would sustain the high wartime levels of production in the engineering industry. Small engineering firms were not in a position to employ salesmen in Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere, nor could they coordinate sub-contracts and comply with foreign specifications without government assistance. The proposal was referred to an inter-departmental committee that initially seemed supportive. As time passed, however, the Treasury and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture became obstructive and the industry representatives on the Export Advisory Committee were totally opposed to the scheme.

The expansion of the Trade Commissioner Service was more acceptable to private industry. In 1944 only five trade commissions were operative and they were fully occupied with war work. In the next three years, nine new posts were opened, including London, Washington and Paris, and three posts were re-opened (Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo). In 1947 the Department of Commerce and Agriculture began producing Overseas Trading, a monthly journal that publicised export opportunities and provided information on tariffs and import restrictions.

A Cabinet submission on post-war trade policy was made by Keane in June 1945, based mostly on a paper by William Dunk, a senior Treasury official. Keane argued that a high volume of exports would be necessary in the post-war years, as pent-up demand and the need for capital goods would result in an influx of equipment, consumer goods and other imports. The costs of imports were likely to be much higher than in pre-war years and freight rates would also be higher. As it eventuated, there was an enormous growth of trade in the next few years. Manufacturers complained about the continuation of export controls and shipping shortages, but by 1948 most controls had been abolished or relaxed and far more merchant ships were in operation.

From 1945 to 1949, both exports and imports exceeded in value those in any previous period. Exports rose from £155 million in 1945 to £538 million in 1949, while in the same period imports rose from £212 million to £456 million. More than 60 per cent of trade was with Britain and other Commonwealth countries. Wool accounted in value for at least 35 per cent of exports, while the other major export commodities were wheat, flour, meat, butter, lead and sugar. Cars, machinery and petrol were the largest imports, followed by chemicals, tobacco, tea, iron plates, rubber and paper. Partly due to continued import controls, there were favourable balances of payments after 1944–45. There were, however, substantial deficits in the balances of payments with the dollar area (including Canada). In 1948–49, for instance, exports to the United States totalled £32 million, while imports were valued at £41 million.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

For many years protection and imperial preference had formed the cornerstones of Australian trade policy. Article VII of the Mutual Aid Agreement, signed on 23 February 1942, committed the United States and Britain to take action towards 'the elimination of all forms of discriminatory treatment in international commerce and the reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers'. Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State, and other American leaders were violently opposed to protectionism; in their eyes, 'discriminatory treatment' clearly referred to the Ottawa Agreement of 1932. In July 1942 the British economist and official James Meade proposed the creation of an international commercial union, which would complement the monetary union conceived by Keynes. The commercial union would be based on a 'charter' of rules. His plan, with some modifications, was subsequently adopted by the British War Cabinet and was presented to the United States government in September 1943.

Australian officials had initially reported that Article VII would have some adverse effects on certain export industries, but 'on balance, Australia would probably gain from a relaxation of trade barriers'. After 1942, however, they became more suspicious of a multilateral trade agreement. At talks with British and dominion representatives in June 1943, HC Coombs argued for the preservation of bilateral arrangements and claimed that general tariff reductions overlooked the differences in development of countries. In January 1944 Australian ministers agreed that there had been inadequate consultation with other countries and they resolved to work towards delaying any general reduction in tariffs until after the war. They considered that countries dependent on a narrow range of exports should be allowed to use imperial preference and other measures to ensure the stability of their economies. Full employment was their priority and at international discussions Australian delegates doggedly sought to link an international employment agreement with an international trade agreement (see chapter 11).

In September 1945 Article VII discussions were resumed by the United States and British governments. The idea of a commercial union had evolved into a proposed International Trade Organization (ITO) that would be complemented by a tariff protocol, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In 1946 trade discussions were brought under the aegis of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and were divided into two sets of negotiations: the preparation of the charter of the ITO and a series of bilateral trade agreements within a multilateral framework. In October 1946 Coombs led a large Australian delegation to London for the first session of the Preparatory Committee of the Conference on Trade and Employment. It reached agreement on 74 of the 89 articles of the draft charter. The second session began in Geneva in April 1947. Debates about the ITO charter took place concurrently with GATT negotiations involving delegates from 18 countries. Australian negotiations with the United States over duties on wool and other primary products soon reached an impasse, with Britain and the other dominions supporting Australia. Dedman joined Coombs in Geneva in June and exerted strong pressure on the American negotiators. Eventually, the Australians were offered a 25 per cent reduction in the duty on wool (which accounted for 90 per cent of Australian exports to the United States) and concessions on other primary products. In return, some imperial preferential margins were reduced, but Australian sacrifices were relatively slight.

The Anglo–American trade agreement was finalised on 17 October 1947 and accords between the United States and Australia and the other dominions followed a few days later. In addition, bilateral tariff agreements were made between Australia and 14 other countries. GATT covered 70 per cent of the world's trade and was described by President Truman as 'a landmark in the history of international economic relations'. Further bilateral agreements were negotiated at Annecy in France in 1949 and by 1950 GATT had a membership of 41 countries.

The ITO charter drafted at Geneva was discussed and amended at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment, which began meeting in Havana in November 1947. Dedman and Coombs again led the Australian delegation and Dedman chaired the committee on employment and economic activity. There were deep divisions at the conference, with delegates from developing countries claiming that high protection was essential. The divisions were reflected in the draft charter, with its numerous escape clauses. Rather than eliminate discriminatory treatment, it maintained protectionism. Coombs succeeded in having the full employment objective included in the charter. The charter was signed by the representatives of 53 countries on 24 March 1948 and was ratified by the Australian Parliament in December 1948. In the United States, however, there was strong opposition to the charter and Congress did not begin the process of ratification until April 1950. After a few months, the hearings were deferred and the International Trade Organization passed into oblivion. Many of its proposed functions were gradually adopted by GATT, which in 1995 became the World Trade Organization.

War Cabinet
Series: A2671
Report on operation of the Export Committee, 22 July 1944 365/1944
Export Committee: second report by the Chairman to the War Cabinet, 23 August 1944 415/1944
Export Committee: third report of the Chairman to the War Cabinet, 7 December 553/1944
Export Committee: fourth report of the Chairman to the War Cabinet, 12 June 1945 (2 parts) 183/1945
Manpower for export: report by the Chairman of the Export Committee, 12 June 1945 236/1945
Series: A2700
Australian export trade: wartime and post-war policy, 10 May 1944 656
Development of commercial export trade, 19 February 1945 796
Australian Trading Export Corporation, 7 August 1946 838
Australian Trading Export Corporation, 4 May 1945 838A
Australian external trade situation following end of European War and post-war, 2 July 1945 869
Australian trade publicity overseas, 20 November 1945 993
Washington discussions on finance, lend-lease and commercial policy, 20 November 1945 1001
Washington discussions on finance, lend-lease and commercial policy, 17 December 1945 1001A
International Trade Organisation, 18 December 1945 1019
United States trade and employment proposals, 18 January 1946 1019A
Trade and Employment Conference: selection of Australian delegation, 2 April 1946 1019B
Trade and Employment Conference: selection of Australian delegation, 2 April 1946 1019C
Trade and Employment Conference: first progress report, 29 April 1947 1019D
Trade and Employment Conference: progress report, 15 August 1947 1019E
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), 28 October 1947 1019F
Charter for an International Trade Organisation, 4 May 1948 1019G
Resumption of private trade with Japan, 26 May 1947 1343
Resumption of private trade with Japan, 15 August 1947 1343A
Series: A6006
Sir Earle Page. Trade relations with USA, 6 June 1941 Reel 13
Production Executive
Series: A2866
Volume 7
W Scully and RV Keane. Development of the commercial export trade, 20 February 1945 17/1945
Attorney-General's Department
Series: A432
International Conference on Trade and Employment, 1946–48 (2 parts)
Correspondence of KH Bailey with HC Coombs, AS Brown, LHE Bury and others on the draft charter of the International Trade Organization and legal questions raised by the Australian delegation to the Geneva conference.
Forming Export Trading Corporation: post war reconstruction, 1945–47
Correspondence of KH Bailey with HC Coombs, FH Wheeler and F McCay on discussions concerning the proposed Export Trading Corporation, its constitutional legality, and the attitude of the Treasury.
Department of Commerce and Agriculture
Series: A606
Post war reconstruction: external trade relations, 1941–44
Papers and minutes by FL McDougall, JF Murphy and others on trends in world trade, international trade policy, food products and government control of food marketing.
Post war reconstruction: US international trade, 1941–47
Minutes (1942–43) by AH Tange, JB Brigden and PMC Hasluck on economic trends and post-war reconstruction in the United States.
Post-war trade: Australia, 1942–44
Departmental correspondence and minutes on tariff barriers, the possible reduction or abolition of imperial preference, and post-war trade prospects. The correspondents include JF Murphy and CL Steele.
Post-war trade policy: Exports Advisory Committee, 1944–49
Minutes and correspondence of the Federal Exports Advisory Committee and state exports advisory committees (1947–48) and minutes and correspondence on export policy and administrative organisation in relation to commercial exports. The correspondents include JF Murphy, J Bracken, RV Keane, HC Coombs, E McCarthy and A Hyland.
R40/4/14 Pt 1
Post-war trade policy: Exports Advisory Committee, 1949–50
Minutes and papers of the Federal Exports Advisory Committee, including correspondence about the disbandment of state exports advisory committees.
R40/4/20 Pt 2
Series: A609
Policy for Australian export industries, 1948–55
Includes a minute (16 February 1948) by JG Crawford to RT Pollard on the implications for Australian rural industries of American, British and European economic and trade policies.
United States–Australian commercial relations, 1941–53
Correspondence and cables concerning trade negotiations in Washington (1942–43), a proposed trade agreement, United States tariff policy, the British attitude to bilateral negotiations, the extension of the United States Trade Agreements Act, tariff reductions, and the export of wool to America. The correspondents include HV Evatt, JF Murphy, E McCarthy and JU Garside.
Department of External Affairs
Series: A989
Commercial policy: London discussions, 1943–44
Includes minutes of a meeting (5 May 1943) of the Inter-Departmental Committee on External Relations and a report by HC Coombs on post-war commercial policy discussions in London in June 1943.
Commercial policy: ID discussions, 1943
Includes memoranda by the Department of Post War Reconstruction and the Department of Trade and Customs on post-war commercial policy.
Commercial policy: UK proposals, 1943–44
Reports and summaries of discussions in London and Washington on post-war commercial policy.
Commercial policy proposals, 1944
Letters by SG McFarlane and JDL Hood on commercial policy discussions between the Treasury, Department of Trade and Customs and the Department of External Affairs.
Commercial policy: general, 1944
Correspondence concerning the government's tariff policy, the restoration of Australian export trade, and the relationship between political and trade relations with foreign countries. The correspondents include E Abbott, W Scully and JDL Hood.
Empire talks: commercial policy, 1944
Correspondence and minutes by CL Steele and AH Tange on discussions on commercial policy in London in March 1944.
Series: A1066
United Nations proposals: Trade and Employment Conference, 1945
Correspondence of JB Brigden, AH Tange, FH Wheeler and others on a proposed international conference on trade and employment, commercial policy and changes in preferences.
Commercial policy: tariffs, 1945
Includes a memorandum by the Department of Trade and Customs on tariff proposals and letters of JDL Hood, JJ Kennedy and HC Coombs on tariff reductions.
Export Trading Corporation, 1945
Papers and correspondence on the proposed Australian Export Trading Corporation and the minutes and report of an inter-departmental committee chaired by HP Breen. The correspondents include HC Coombs, BW Hartnell and WE Dunk.
Series: A1067
Trade and Employment Conference: local correspondence, 1946
Correspondence and other papers on imperial preference, tariff reductions, and the provisional program of the Trade and Employment Conference.
Discussions and comments on commercial policy, 1946–47
Includes a speech by HV Evatt, a draft Cabinet submission by JB Chifley and letters of LHE Bury and LG Melville on American commercial policy proposals.
Trade and Employment Conference: draft Australian views, 1945–46
Memoranda by the Department of External Affairs, the Department of Trade and Customs, the Department of Post War Reconstruction and the Commonwealth Bank on Australian commercial policy.
Trade and Employment Conference: Permanent Heads Committee, 1946
Minutes and agenda of meetings of the Permanent Heads Committee, chaired by WE Dunk.
Trade and Employment Conference: memos to W Dunk, 1946
Includes memoranda by LHE Bury and T Critchley on Australian discussions about the International Trade Organization and reports by HC Coombs on meetings of the Preparatory Committee in London.
Trade and Employment Conference: visit of Brown and Phillips, 1946
Includes a report of discussions in Sydney with W Brown and W Phillips of the State Department on the United States draft charter of the International Trade Organization.
Commercial policy: local correspondence, 1945–46
Includes letters of JF Murphy and WE Dunk on trading with ex-enemy countries and a letter by JJ Kennedy on the relaxation of licensing control on sterling goods.
Australian export policy: Export Trading Corporation, 1945–46
Papers and correspondence on the proposed Australian Export Trading Corporation, an Export Guarantee Service provided by the Commonwealth Bank, the Export Guarantee Scheme in the United Kingdom and the Canadian Export Credits Insurance Corporation.
Series: A1838
ITO: minutes, agenda papers and decisions of Cabinet Sub-Committee on Trade and Employment, 1948–50
Includes Cabinet papers, agenda papers of the Cabinet sub-committee and minutes from the Economic Relations section to JW Burton.
711/1/1 Pt 2
GATT: report of External Affairs representative to Preparatory Committee of Trade and Employment Conference, 1947
A report (January 1947) by LHE Bury on meetings of the Commonwealth delegations and the Preparatory Committee of the Trade and Employment Conference in London in October–November 1946 and notes (10 April 1947) by WE Dunk on the post-war world economic situation.
ITO submissions to Minister and Secretary: Havana Conference, 1948–50
Notes by the Department of Trade and Customs on Australia's position in relation to GATT and the Havana Charter for the International Trade Organization and minutes from the Economic Relations Section to HV Evatt and JW Burton on the Cabinet sub-committee and the Inter-Departmental Committee on the ITO.
711/1/3 Pt 1
Australian accession to International Trade Organization, 1948–50
Descriptive summary of the International Trade Organization Charter and correspondence and cables concerning the 1948 International Trade Organization Act, Article 23 of the Havana Charter, the Australian acceptance of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the International Trade Organization Charter, and the failure of the US Congress to ratify the charter. The correspondents include AS Brown, CL Hewitt, RJ Randall and DJ Munro.
Department of Post War Reconstruction
Series: A9790
Trade and employment: Cabinet Sub-Committee, 1946–49 (8 parts)
Decisions of the sub-committee (JJ Dedman, RV Keane, WJ Scully), summaries of GATT negotiations, memoranda and minutes submitted to Dedman. The correspondents include Dedman, AS Brown, EJ Bunting, CL Hewitt and LF Crisp.
Trade and employment: IDC, 1945–50 (6 parts)
Minutes and papers (1947–50) of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Trade and Employment, chaired at various times by R Wilson, HC Coombs and AS Brown, and related correspondence on tariff matters. The correspondents include HC Coombs, GG Firth, JJ Kennedy, HP Breen and CL Hewitt.
Trade and employment: representations from private industry, 1946–50
Correspondence, mainly on tariffs and imperial preference, addressed to the Prime Minister or JJ Dedman by companies, primary producer organisations, marketing boards, chambers of commerce, the RSL, state premiers and other organisations and individuals.
Trade and employment: general, 1945–50 (10 parts)
Reports of the Australian delegations to the Preparatory Committee and the Trade and Employment Conference at Geneva, Havana and Annecy, cables sent to the Australian delegations, notes of inter-departmental meetings and correspondence. They include reports by HC Coombs to the Prime Minister on the work of the Preparatory Committee in London in 1946 and letters of JB Chifley, JJ Dedman, HC Coombs, GG Firth, LHE Bury and J Fletcher.
Trade and employment: ITO – Charter – employment and economic activities, 1946–49
Correspondence mainly dealing with employment proposals at the Trade and Employment Conference and the place of employment in the proposed International Trade Organization. The correspondents include HC Coombs, AH Tange, GG Firth and CL Hewitt.
Trade and employment: ITO – Charter – commercial policy, 1946–48
Correspondence concerning the Trade and Employment Conference, subsidies for manufacturers and the exclusion of shipping, insurance and finance from the draft charter. The correspondents include JG Crawford, LHE Bury and KH Bailey.
Export policy, 1945–50
Correspondence of HC Coombs, AS Brown, HP Breen, JJ Kennedy and E McCarthy on the easing and abolition of export controls.
Series: A9816
IDC on External Relations: general correspondence, 1941–44
Includes minutes (August – September 1942) by LF Crisp and AH Tange referring to Article VII and correspondence with the Department of External Affairs on international economic collaboration.
International relations and reconstruction: lend-lease, 1942–45
Reports of the Division of Import Procurement and other material on lend-lease and correspondence concerning post-war international trade policy. The correspondents include AC Moore and HC Coombs.
Commercial Union proposals, 1943–45 (2 parts)
Papers, correspondence and minutes on commercial policy discussions and proposals, Article VII, subsidies, tariffs and control of cartels. The correspondents include HC Coombs, LF Crisp, AH Tange, G Schneider, GG Firth, JW Burton and JF Nimmo.
IDC on Export Policy, 1944–45 (2 parts)
Agenda papers and minutes of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Export Policy, chaired by RV Keane, and correspondence concerning the committee and Australia's post-war trade. The correspondents include HC Coombs, AH Tange, BW Hartnell and HP Breen.
Export Advisory Committee, 1945–46
Minutes of the Federal Export Advisory Committee, chaired successively by JF Murphy and E McCarthy, and state export advisory committees.
Article VII: termination of Lend-Lease, 1943–46 (2 parts)
Papers and correspondence on commercial policy, the elimination of preference, and negotiations on the termination of Lend-Lease in 1945–46. The correspondents include HC Coombs, GG Firth, FH Wheeler and WE Dunk.
Series: MT42/1
Overseas trade: coordination of exports and imports, 1945
A draft Cabinet submission, correspondence, minutes, and a memorandum (5 June 1945) by WE Dunk on Australia's external trade situation following the war. The correspondents include AH Tange, BW Hartnell, HP Breen and WE Dunk.
Department of Trade and Customs
Series: A1539
Australia's external trade situation in post-war world, 1945
Includes a Cabinet submission by RV Keane on Australia's external trade situation and correspondence about the reconstitution of the Export Committee.
Export Committee: minutes of meetings, 1945–47
Agenda papers and minutes of the Export Committee, chaired successively by RV Keane and B Courtice.
Series: A9879
London discussions on commercial policy, 1944
Papers, correspondence and cables relating to discussions on commercial policy in London in March 1944.
Article VII, 1942–45 (2 parts)
Correspondence and papers on Australia's obligations under Article VII, American commercial policy, the relaxation of import controls and possible effects on Australian industries. The correspondents include RV Keane, JB Chifley, JJ Kennedy and J Fletcher.
6100 Pt 1
Papers of Cabinet Sub-Committee on Trade and Employment, 1945–53 (6 parts)
Summaries of proceedings of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment and papers and correspondence on Article VII, the British preferential tariff system, subsidy and price support schemes, American trade and employment proposals, and the Australian tariff.
British Commonwealth talks on tariffs and trade, 1946–47
Notes by GA Rattigan on British Commonwealth talks (October 1946) and correspondence and papers on working groups of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Trade and Employment.
Summaries of UN Conference on Trade and Employment, 1947–48
Weekly summaries, prepared by the Department of Post War Reconstruction, of proceedings of the Preparatory Committee of the Conference on Trade and Employment.
Reports on negotiations by Coombs and Fletcher, 1947
Papers of the United Nations Trade and Employment Conference and reports by HC Coombs and J Fletcher of the work of the Preparatory Committee in Geneva.
9417 Pt 2
Tariff negotiations: press conference of JJ Dedman on International Trade Organization, 1947
Transcript of an address on the International Trade Organization by JJ Dedman to a press conference at Geneva (4 July 1947).
Series: A571
Trade policy, 1942–50 (17 parts)
Agenda papers, correspondence, cables, notes and newspaper cuttings on post-war commercial policy, Article VII discussions, imperial preference, British consultations with the dominions, tariff policy, United States trade and employment proposals, industrial development, and the Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on Trade and Employment. The correspondents include RV Keane, SG McFarlane, FH Wheeler, RJ Randall, HT Armitage, LG Melville, HC Coombs, AC Moore, J Fletcher and LHE Bury.
Development of Australian export trade, 1944–46
Agendas and minutes of the Export Advisory Committee (chair: JF Murphy), correspondence and newspaper cuttings about the formation of the committee and planning for the resumption of export trade.
Australian Export Trading Corporation, 1945–49
Correspondence, minutes and papers of FH Wheeler concerning the proposal of the Department of Post War Reconstruction for the establishment of an Australian Export Trading Corporation. The other correspondents include BW Hartnell, LG Melville, SP Stevens, JJ Dedman and HR Woodrow.
Australian export policy, 1947–52 (2 parts)
Correspondence, cables, notes and newspaper cuttings dealing with the dollar problem, the diversion of exports to dollar areas, export licences and the estimated value of exports. The correspondents include JB Chifley, FH Wheeler, RJ Randall, HR Woodrow, E McCarthy and JA Tonkin.
JB Chifley
Series: M1455
Correspondence: C, Part 3, 1945–47
Includes a letter (3 February 1947) from HC Coombs to JB Chifley on Australian sugar and international trade negotiations and a letter (11 March 1947) from Coombs about discussions with the Overseas Corporation (Aust.) on proposals for an export trading corporation.
Correspondence: D, Part 1, 1946–47
Includes a letter (4 July 1947) from JJ Dedman to B Courtice on sugar arrangements at the Trade and Employment Conference at Geneva.
Correspondence: P, Part 4, 1947
Letters from JJ Dedman to JB Chifley forwarding extracts from British, European and American newspapers discussing the Geneva trade talks.
HC Coombs
Series: M448
Post-war commercial policy, 1943
Includes a memorandum (16 September 1943) and cables on the London talks on post-war commercial policy, which Coombs attended, and a departmental memorandum (21 September 1943) on the procedure on post-war commercial policy.
Mutual Aid Agreement, 1942
Various departmental memoranda on Article VII and the Mutual Aid Agreement and a letter (14 November 1942) from AH Tange to HC Coombs on Article VII and the positive approach.
London session [United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment], 1946
Memoranda, briefing notes, speeches and correspondence on the British Commonwealth talks on trade and employment and the proposals for an International Trade Organization.
International Conference on Trade and Employment, 1946
Memoranda, speeches and correspondence relating to the Preparatory Commission of the Conference on Trade and Employment. The correspondents include JB Chifley, HC Coombs and CL Hewitt.
International Conference on Trade and Employment, 1947
Correspondence, statements and speeches concerning the work of the Australian delegation at the International Conference on Trade and Employment in Geneva, tariff negotiations, the possibility of Coombs being offered the post of Director-General of the International Trade Organization, and news of the Department of Post War Reconstruction. The correspondents include HC Coombs, JG Crawford, AS Brown, RI Downing and B Courtice.
Sir Douglas Copland
Series: CP6/1
International policy: trade policy, 1941–45
Financial and Economic Committee papers, cables, and memoranda and minutes by AH Tange, GG Firth, WE Dunk and JB Condliffe on world trade, post-war commercial policy, import restrictions in relation to Article VII, subsidies and the reduction of imperial preference.
John Curtin
Series: M1415
Correspondence T, 1944
Includes a report (3 July 1944) by RV Keane of his visit to New Zealand, including discussions on a possible trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand.
Jacob Fletcher

Jacob Fletcher was a senior officer in the Department of Trade and Customs and was an Australian delegate at many international trade conferences.

Series: A10455
Discussions with representatives of the Dominions and India relating to commercial policy, 1944 62C
Submissions and decisions of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Trade and Employment, 1947 77
Draft of a charter for an international trade organisation of the United Nations, 1944 87
Papers about the International Conference on Trade and Employment, 1946 92
Havana Conference: delegation report, 1948 133
Notes of meetings of departmental representatives relating to GATT, 1947 365

Further reading

Butlin, SJ and Schedvin, CB, War Economy 19421945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1977.

Nicholson, DF, Australia's Trade Relations: an outline history of Australia's overseas trading arrangements, Cheshire, Melbourne, 1955.

Schedvin, Boris, Emissaries of Trade: a history of the Australian Trade Commissioner Service, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra, 2008.

Spaull, Andrew, John Dedman: a most unexpected Labor man, Hyland House, Melbourne, 1998.

Walker, E Ronald, The Australian Economy in War and Reconstruction, Oxford University Press, New York, 1947.

Zeiler, Thomas W, Free Trade, Free World: the advent of GATT, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1999.