Right Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Trade and Commerce):
M<r. Speaker, I find that I can now comply with the request of the leader of the opposition that I make a statement on the wheat agreement.
Agreement has been reached among the representatives of thirty-six countries on the terms of an international wheat agreement, which was opened for signature in Washington last Saturday. The agreement is in the nature of a multilateral bulk contract and contains the following basic terms:
1. Operation for a period of five crop years, commencing August 1, 1948.
2. Prices on specified quantities to be within the following price ranges, basis No. 1 Manitoba wheat in store Fort William-Port Arthur:
$2.00-$ 1.501949- 50
2.00- 1.401950- 51
2.00- 1.301951- 52
2.00- 1.201952- 53
Equivalent prices are to be fixed on wheat in other locations and in other countries.
3. Canada, United States and Australia, the three exporting countries party to the agreement, collectively undertake to sell 500 million bushels of wheat to the thirty-three importing countries if required1 by those countries at the ceiling prices. Canada's share in the 500 million bushels is 230 million bushels, the United States' share 185 million bushels, and the Australian share 85 million bushels. The importing countries in return collectively undertake to purchase 500 million bushels of wheat each crop year from the three exporting countries if the latter desire a market for that quantity at the floor prices provided in the agreement. These quantities include flour in terms of wheat.
4. Provision is made for the negotiation of narrower price ranges in the third, fourth and fifth years of the agreement if mutually acceptable to the exporting and importing countries; otherwise the floors and ceilings as stated above for these years will prevail.
5. The importing countries and the quantities they undertake to purchase at the floor prices and have the right to buy at the ceilings, are as follows, in thousands of bushels.
Dominican republic 735
Egypt [DOT] 6,981
French union and Saar 35,824
International Wheat Agreement
New Zealand 5,511
South Africa 6,430
United Kingdom 179,930
The quantity for the United Kingdom includes requirement for British territories such as Newfoundland and1 the British West Indies. I would point out that the three exporting countries in return for selling 500 million bushels of wheat annually at prices not above $2 over the next five years have secured international floor price protection for their producers over the same period. Canada's quantity of 230 million bushels represents her total normal exportable surplus. The importing countries in return for guaranteeing floor prices had assured themselves fixed supplies at prices not over $2. Although Argentina and the U.S.S.R. are not parties to the agreement, whatever wheat transactions take place between these exporters and the signatory importers must 'be in addition to the importers' undertakings within the agreement. Canada, the United States and Australia remain free to sell any additional quantities they may have for sale outside the terms of the agreement. By balancing the interests of both producing countries and consuming countries in an agreement covering the bulk of the world's trade in wheat, the agreement represents a major development in international economic co-operation.