Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, on October 19, as reported at page 699 of Hansard, I placed before the house the response of the President of the United States to the suggestion I had made in a letter to him representing, as it did, a matter that I brought before the commonwealth prime ministers' conference in London. I now wish to report what has taken place since.
Representatives of the nations who are parties to the general agreement on tariffs and trade now meeting in Geneva have agreed that a ministerial meeting should be held in the early part of 1963 to consider a program for effective liberalization and expansion of trade in both primary and secondary products. I think I can do no better in this connection than to read from a press communique which will be released today by the GATT secretariat. It says that the contracting parties have agreed that a ministerial meeting should be held in the early part of 1963 to consider such a program to which I have already referred.
-full weight should be attached to the importance and urgency of negotiating solutions to problems of trade in primary products and to the additional trade problems of less developed countries. The proposal that such a meeting should be held was made jointly by governments of the United States of America and Canada.
A precise date for the meeting should be determined by the council of representatives.
The council should be convened for this purpose by the executive secretary at the earliest possible date that he feels that necessary elements exist for arriving at a decision.
In this connection, due weight should be attached to the fact that in order to enable the United States of America to play a full part in a further substantial and early movement for reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade, it is desirable that the necessary decision to initiate such a movement be taken early in 1963.
Council should at the same time propose an agenda for the meeting of ministers and make adequate preparation for the meeting.
I know the house will appreciate the fact, as it says in the communique, that Canada and the United States jointly proposed in Geneva that this meeting be held. This
decision is directly in line, as I said a moment ago, with the proposal I made for a meeting of like minded nations to consider these trade questions, which received the endorsement and support of President Kennedy last month. Representatives in Geneva have agreed that at this important meeting full weight should be attached to the urgency of negotiating solutions to the problems mentioned therein. That is in entire accordance with the Canadian views, and the government welcomes this decision.
The exact date of the conference will be settled at an early meeting of the GATT council. Arrangements will be made for Canada to be represented at this very important meeting by the Minister of Trade and Commerce and possibly by other ministers as well. I believe that a meeting at this time will have the most far reaching and beneficial results throughout the free world, and will open great possibilities for expanding trade and in consequence expansion in the Canadian economy.