Hon. Donald M. Fleming (Minister of Finance):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a brief report to the house on the meeting of the Canada-United States joint committee on trade and economic affairs which took place in Washington yesterday and the day before.
The United States was represented by Hon. Dean Rusk, Secretary of State; Hon. George W. Ball, under secretary of state for economic affairs; Hon. Douglas Dillon, Secretary of the Treasury; Hon. Henry R. Fowler, under secretary of the treasury; Hon. Luther H. Hodges, Secretary of Commerce; Hon. Stewart H. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, and Hon. Orville L. Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture. The United States delegation also included Hon. George C. McGovern, coordinator of the food for peace program.
The Canadian government was represented by my colleagues the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the Minister of National Revenue, the Minister of Agriculture, and myself. The Canadian delegation also included the under secretary of state for external affairs, Mr. N. A. Robertson, the Canadian ambassador to the United States, Mr. A. D. P. Heeney, and officials of the various departments.
This was the first meeting of the committee since the new United States administration took office. The Canadian ministers were anxious that the United States members 90205-6-190
should view individual problems in the context of the entire framework of economic relations between our two countries. Accordingly we took the occasion to review at some length the Canadian economic situation and to show which features of our situation were common to both countries and which features were different. Both countries, for example, have shared the same experience of a slowing down of growth and of high levels of unemployment. We reviewed together the measures both countries had taken to stimulate greater economic activity, and we were agreed that an expansion of growth would result.
Both countries have had special problems related to the balance of payments. In this respect, however, our problems in Canada have been somewhat different from those of the United States. It was valuable to have an opportunity at this meeting to explain these differences to our United States colleagues and to analyse features of our balance of payments along the lines I followed in this house when introducing the supplementary budget last December.
The United States balance of payments was examined in the context of the world financial situation. As hon. members are aware, there have been serious problems of international imbalance associated with short term capital movements. Now that the major currencies are convertible and capital moves more freely it is clear that the industrial countries of western Europe and North America will have to continue and improve their methods of consultation about the economic policies of individual countries as they may affect others. We believe that the organization for economic co-operation and development will provide a very useful forum for such consultation.
It was clear from our discussions this week that the members of the committee are in broad agreement that the 1960's will produce new and rather different problems from those both countries have faced in the past. The great expansion of the economies of the western European countries is presenting a competitive challenge to both the United States and Canada. We found that the United States side attached great importance, as we do ourselves, to ensuring that the development of regional trading groups and any arrangements between them do not restrict the traditional access of North American exports
Canada-U.S. Trade Committee to the markets of western Europe. The committee agreed, especially, that in the current tariff negotiations at Geneva the six countries of the common market should assure that access. Canadian ministers were particularly gratified to learn that the new administration would continue to co-operate closely with Canada in pressing the Six for a satisfactory settlement in GATT with respect to trade in agricultural products.
The relations of Canada and the United States with the Six and the Seven will be of the greatest importance in the years to come. The establishment of the new O.E.C.D. will provide a framework in which Canada, the United States and their European partners will be able to examine and discuss each other's policies with respect not only to trade and economic matters but also to the vital task of assisting the less developed countries. I was able to report to my United States colleagues that Canada was the first country to complete parliamentary approval of the O.E.C.D. convention, having done so by unanimous vote of both houses, and Canada is now in a position to ratify.
In the meetings this year special attention was also given to the problems facing the underdeveloped countries. I am confident that the long-standing co-operation between the two countries in this field will be continued and indeed strengthened. I was struck by the conviction within the committee that the developed countries, particularly those with surpluses to invest abroad, must find satisfactory and equitable means to respond to the needs of the developing countries, and above all defeat the threat of poverty and starvation in so many parts of the world.
Ideas and actions, some of which are developing and others of which are planned in connection with the use of food to help raise levels of consumption and standards of nutrition were discussed, including the latest developments in the United States food for peace program. The United States indicated support for multilateral arrangements such as the Canadian proposal for a world food bank, which they had joined in sponsoring before the United Nations general assembly last October .This proposal is at present being given detailed study by FAO and it is expected that recommendations for appropriate action by governments will be forthcoming later this year. Other points relating to agreement on the continuation of close consultations to ensure that present and potential commercial markets for food products are not disrupted are recorded in the communique and I need not repeat these at length. I may say, however, that Canadian ministers were very pleased to receive from the new administration such a clear undertaking in this regard.
The committee also discussed a number of matters less general in scope but of direct importance to trade and economic relations between our two countries. Measures taken by Canada since our last meeting were reviewed. In this regard I had the opportunity to give a full explanation of the proposals put before parliament in the supplementary budget, notably its tariff and tax provisions. As a result of our useful discussions on this subject, I believe our United States colleagues have a full understanding of these proposals.
Canadian ministers raised a number of points bearing on our exports to the United States, such as import restrictions on agricultural products and on lead and zinc, certain customs problems, and the difficulties raised for Canada by the United States export subsidy on cotton manufactures. As a result of these exchanges of view I believe the United States members of the committee should have no doubt about the difficulties faced by Canadian exporters as a result of United States policies in these fields.
This meeting of the joint committee provided a welcome opportunity for Canadian ministers and the new United States secretaries to meet each other and gain a clear understanding of points of view in both countries. This meeting, like previous meetings of the committee, was characterized by the utmost frankness and friendliness.
Following the meeting my colleagues and I had the honour of being invited to call on the President with whom we had a most interesting talk. This meeting afforded an opportunity for further discussion of trade and economic questions and of the visit of the President and Mrs. Kennedy to Ottawa, which is awaited by Canadians with pleasant anticipation.
Mr. Speaker, may I table for the information of the house a copy of the communique which was issued at the conclusion of the committee meetings. If it is the wish of hon. members perhaps it could be printed as an appendix to today's Hansard.