Hon. Paul Martin (Secretary of State for External Affairs):
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister indicated yesterday that on my return from the organization for economic co-operation and development meeting held in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday I would make a brief statement on the results of this conference, which was presided over by the foreign minister of Norway, Mr. Lange. I wish to table the communique issued at the conclusion of this meeting, and with the permission of the house perhaps it might be printed as an appendix to Hansard of today, as was done in other years.
The organization for economic co-operation and development provides an important bridge between the European and North American parts of the Atlantic community. It is expected shortly to be broadened by the inclusion of Japan when the parliamentary procedures in that country have been completed. These links among such key countries make this organization extremely important in Canada's general foreign relations. The O.E.C.D. provides a forum for consultation among representatives of the principal industrial nations of the west.
The most important feature of this particular meeting was the discussion of assistance by member countries to the less developed nations of the world. I emphasized the importance which the Canadian government attaches to the efforts of the O.E.C.D. to improve the co-ordination of aid. I indicated that the statistics frequently referred to comparing aid programs of Canada and other countries were often misleading and needed to be interpreted with great care. There are problems of definition and content which must be examined critically. Moreover, as the organization has recognized in the past, there are qualitative as well as quantitative factors which must be introduced for a meaningful comparison.
I am happy to report that representatives of other member governments warmly received the details of the increase in our own aid program which were announced in this
house last Thursday. The meeting also considered the trade relations of member countries with the less developed countries and agreed on the importance of approaching the United Nations conference on trade and development with the intention of making a positive contribution to the necessary efforts to expand the trade of these developing countries. The occasion of this O.E.C.D. meeting provided an opportunity for the ministers from the NATO countries to take part in an informal NATO discussion on east-west economic and other relations. This is, of course, a subject under continuing study by the organization, and we had a frank and useful discussion of the significance of recent developments.
In making this statement I have taken note of the questions asked of the Prime Minister by the hon. member for Burnaby-Coquitlam and the right hon. Leader of the Opposition yesterday and the day before. In particular the council considered the role of government credit and government guarantees of private credit in trade with the communist countries. No attempt was made to reach an agreed view, as this was not the object of the discussion. I made it clear that Canada favoured east-west trade in non-strategic goods on a mutually advantageous basis.
Regarding government to government credit, I reported that Canada like most other NATO countries has not extended such credits to any communist country. In connection with the question of credit guarantees, I stated that Canadian policy is generally to follow the criteria established for members of the Berne Union; that is, normally to limit government guarantees of private credit to five years. This policy is maintained with respect to all countries on a non-discriminatory basis, and of course applies to guarantees of private credits for Canadian sales to communist countries.
I may say in conclusion that the reports which I have seen on my return this morning indicating that Canada had taken a position other than that of the government of the United Kingdom are not founded in fact.
Righl Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Leader of the Opposition): The house will welcome the presence of the genial Secretary of State for External Affairs. We saw him pictured in various poses during his visit to Paris. His look of suspicion has no basis in fact.
Paris Meeting of O.E.C.D.
Naturally, we give our support to the O.E.C.D., and I am very glad to hear that Japan is about to join. We endeavoured, during the days of the Conservative administration, to encourage the adherence of Japan; we gave it our full support.
However, I should like to refer particularly to the credit arrangements which were discussed. According to the various press items there was in fact an endeavour on the part of the United States to bring about an end to all credit or credit guarantees to communist countries.
Subtopic: REPORT ON PARIS MEETING OP O.E.C.D.