PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 1575

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER THE RT. HON. HARAOLD HOLT, IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES - 16TH MAY, 1967 - THE OUTCOME OF THE KENNEDY ROUND TARIFF NEGOTIATIONS

Photo of Holt, Harold

Holt, Harold

Period of Service: 26/01/1966 to 19/12/1967

More information about Holt, Harold on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/1967

Release Type: Statement in Parliament

Transcript ID: 1575

TSHTAE TRETM. EHNOTN . B YH TAHREO LPDR IHMOEL TM, ININIS TTEHRE, U' ' 7AY ' 117
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES aA
16TH MAY, 1967
THE OUTCOME OF THE KENNEDY ROUND TARIFF
NEGOTIATIONS
I can tell the House that I have just this morning been
informed by Mr. McEwen from Geneva that the Director -General of the
G. ATT has announced that agreement has been reached on the elements of
a successful Kennedy Round. This is the outcome as at present seen of
negotiations over some four years and, even on the limited information as
yet available, can be said to represent a major success in reducing barriers
to world trade. As Honourable Members will know, this important series
of negotiations was initiated by t he late President John F. Kennedy with the
obj ective of achieving a significant liberalisation of world trade covering
all classes of products, both industrial and agricultural. It is in relation
to agricultural products, of course, that Australia has been most concerned
to achieve better trading conditions.
After the difficult negotiations of the past few weeks in
Geneva, it is gratifying that the major traders of the world have been able
to reconcile their conflicting interests and to reach agreement on arrangements
which offer benefits not only as between themselves but also to the
less developed countries of the world. I understand that the net effect of
the Kennedy Round could be a reduction in tariffs in the industrialised
countries of the order of 3L-per cent. covering trade to the value of some
$ pUS-, billion. It is not yet possible to provide Members with full details
of the overall settlement reached in Geneva. In fact, discussions on some
items of importance to Australia are continuing. I can, however, say that
with respect to one of our major export commodities wheat we have
achieved more satisfactory arrangements than at various stages of negotiations
seemed attainable. Agreement has been reached which will ensure that
world wheat marketing will continue on an orderly basis and within the
framework of internationally agreed rules of trading.
A new minimum price has been established some 2C cents
per bushel above the minimum in the present International Wheat Agreement.
This in itself i. s a worthwhile gain. It establishes a new floor for world wheat
prices. At present we are, of course, selling our wheat above this level
in world markets and we hope that we shall continue to do so. But it is
reassuring to know that if a situation of world surpluses were to emerge,
we have the protection of a higher and firmer floor price than we have had
up to the present. Furthermore, the price arrangements are such as to retain
Australia's competitive posit-Lon in world markets.

-2-
Another important element of the agreement on wheat is
the acceptance by the developed countries including the EEC, the UK and
Japan, that they should share equitably with the wheat-exporting countries
the burden of providing food aid. This is a principle which Australia has
been pressing ever since the commencement of the Kennedy Round
negotiations. The new arrangement will mean that the food-producing
countries of the world will no longer be looked to alone in providing this
food aid. At this stage, I am not in a position to inform Honourable
Members of the details of the negotiations on meat. Detailed discussions
are in fact still proceeding in Geneva but our delegation is confident that
valuable gains will be achieved in our meat trading arrangemehts.
Moreover, in the totality of the Kennedy Round there will be other benefits
which will assist a number of other Australian industries. Details of these
benefits will be made available when the negotiations have been concluded.
It is the nature of international negotiations in which
conflicting interests must be reconciled ard a balance of advantage struck,
that governments cannot achieve all their negotiating objectives.
Nevertheless, what has been achieved in the Ken nedy Round represents
a real move forward in the whole area of international trade, and one
from which Australia can expect to derive important trading benefits.

Transcript 1575