What is the true purpose of international trade? What is the real justification for insisting that a certain proportion of our production should be sold for the currency of the importing nation? The justification for that insistence is that the true purpose of international trade is the exchange of goods and services between nations on the basis of mutual advantage. Would anybody deny that that is the real principle or the elementary purpose of international trade? If you accept that as the real purpose of international trade, then surely when you sell your goods to another nation, the only currency you need is the currency of that nation, because it is the currency of that nation that you will have to use to buy its goods. You therefore do not need dollars. Yet strangely enough, as I say, every time that question has been raised in the house and a vote has been taken on it, members of other parties have voted against it.
Last year I referred the Minister of Trade and Commerce to what was happening in the United States. I quoted from the U.S. News and World Report, showing that they were going to introduce a policy under which approximately $1 billion of United States produce could be disposed of in foreign nations either in exchange for their currency or in the form of gifts. At that time, as reported at page 5997 of Hansard of June 15, 1954, the Minister of Trade and Commerce interjected these words:
That program was adopted some months ago. So far as I know, India has not taken any wheat for rupees and very few other countries have taken wheat for local currencies.
I then went on to point out that the minister was confusing two programs. I was referring to a program that was going to be brought down. When he said it had been in operation for two or three months, he was referring to another program which was called the mutual security act, under which $250 million worth of United States produce could be exchanged for foreign currency and the foreign currency used mainly for defence purposes. But under the new act, the agricultural adjustment act, over $1 billion of United States farm products can be either exchanged for foreign currency or given in the form of a gift. It was strange to me that at that time the government seemed to show so little concern about the program of the United States in regard to being willing to accept foreign currency in exchange for their produce. Even up until a few days ago the minister seemed to think that a program of that kind could not amount to anything because, as reported at page 3732 of Hansard, he stated:
I know of no reason why we should sacrifice wheat which is the property of the producers of western Canada for the sake of the odd few sales we might get if we accepted a different currency.
I cannot understand why he should use that word "sacrifice". There would be no sacrifice entailed in accepting sterling. The sterling area covers a large percentage of the world. It includes many countries. If we accepted sterling, we would be able to use that sterling for the purchase of goods in any part of the sterling area. Where would be the sacrifice?