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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1937. The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East and Africa

United Kingdom ,   pp. 1-135 PDF (51.1 MB)

Page 44

tary of the Board of Trade holds a key position with respect to trade
agreement matters. Brown felt strongly that we fail to appreciate
their difficulties and I felt equally strongly that perhaps because of
pressure of other affairs he had failed to give sufficiently close con-
sideration to the arguments we have been putting forward in our
various communications. We canvassed thoroughly various aspects
of the problem and as we concluded this part of the conversation he
said that he was glad to have had the opportunity to discuss some
of the possibilities that have been bothering him especially because
in view of our long acquaintance neither of us needed to mince words.
  2. Brown then went on to say that he dislikes preferences as much
as we do and is in full sympathy with our broad objectives. The
British [omission?] for obvious reasons give up the principle of im-
perial preference although they are fully prepared to press for a relaxa-
tion of preferences whenever possible. He said that one of the most
important ideas which Runciman brought back from Washington was
the assurance that we would not ask for complete abandonment of
the principle of imperial preference. That served more than anything
else to convince the, Cabinet that they should make every effort to
reach an agreement with us. At the session of the Imperial Conference
at which trade matters were discussed, Chamberlain made an ex-
ceptionally moving and eloquent appeal for Dominion cooperation in
making possible an agreement between the United States and Great
Britain. (I had a similar description of Chamberlain's speech from
several sources.) In addition to setting forth their present ideas
in the memorandum which they have despatched to Lindsay for
presentation to us, they have sent to Washington an official of the
Board of Trade who specializes on American matters and who will
be prepared to give us detailed explanation of their position.
  3. As regards the attitude of the Dominions, Brown repeated pretty
much what he has already told the Embassy. South Africa is willing
to play ball but Canada and Australia are difficult.
  4. When we talked about Canada, Brown expressed a good deal
of satisfaction with the new British-Canadian agreement whereupon
I said that the haste with which the agreement was negotiated and
signed was a matter of great disappointment to us. I said that the
re-binding to Canada of the Ottawa margins of preference in Great
Britain looked almost like a deliberate attempt to make more difficult
an agreement between the United States and Great Britain. Brown
replied that we must remember how difficult the Canadians are. At
the time the new agreement was negotiated the Canadians were told
and understood perfectly well that in view of the number of bound
margins in Canada from which the British had released them they
must be prepared to make the concessions needed for an agreement

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