Australian Trade Agreement
tries. If the principles to which I have alluded are applied, obviously they will be of mutual advantage to the communities affected. Unless a trade agreement benefits both countries it is not usually of very much use, but we believe and the Australians believe that the application of these principles will be mutually advantageous to Australia and to Canada.
In 1925 a trade agreement was negotiated with Australia. Under the terms of that agreement Canada received British preferential treatment with respect to four items out of a total tariff of 430 items; under the new agreement Canada will receive British preferential treatment on 415 items out of a total of 433. Under the agreement of 1925, Canada received intermediate tariff treatment on four items; under the agreement now before the house, Canada will receive intermediate tariff treatment on six items. Under the agreement of 1925, the general tariff applied on exportations to Australia in the case of 422 items; under the new agreement, the general tariff applies only to twelve items. In other words, while there were 430 items in the tariff of 1925 and 433 items in the tariff of 1931, we receive preferential treatment with respect to 421 items while the general tariff applies only to twelve items. Under the agreement of 1925, the general tariff applied to 422 items while preferential treatment was given only to eight items. The new agreement indicates a distinct advance and I believe it will commend itself to the judgment of this house and of the country. We are sure that this agreement will expand the trade of Canada in the east as well as in the west and it will afford an opportunity for raw materials as well as for finished products.
If on first perusal there are those who believe that too favourable treatment has been extended to Australia, in the main it will be because they have not perused the agreement with care. No agreement can be of service which does not afford a fair opportunity to Australia, such as we ourselves seek in her markets. I need hardly point out that I received a communication from a friend of mine saying that he was very much alarmed with regard to meats. He said that it was a serious situation, because Australia could produce meat readily. I replied that under the present agreement the rate was one-half cent a pound, but in order to maintain the principle to which I alluded in my earlier remarks, we have provided a duty of three cents a pound, which is four times what it was before with respect to some items, and six times what it was with respect to others.
With regard to eggs which were on the free list under the old agreement, we have not imported a dollar's worth of eggs since the agreement was made. Now we have provided that there shall be a duty of two cents a dozen against importations except during certain months of the year. We have also made provision with respect to fruits and other products of the tropical sections of Australia. We have provided a market for the lumber of this country. I say frankly, as I have so often said, I have always found it difficult to understand how any bargain could be made with Australia that did not make some provision for a preference being given to Canadian lumber in that commonwealth; but such was not the case. In this agreement, however, that provision is made.
I shall not go through the various items in the schedule to the agreement, because they will be dealt with in committee. The bill follows the course that has usually been adopted in such cases and ratifies and confirms the agreement as it stands. It provides that if there is any inconsistency between the agreement and the act which ratifies it, and any other laws, the provisions of the act and the agreement shall prevail. Lastly, it provides that the agreement shall come into force on a day agreed upon by the government of Australia and the government of Canada as a result of a proclamation to be made by the governor in council in that commonwealth and in Canada as well.
I do not think there is anything I can usefully add to what I have said as to the principles that have governed in the negotiation of the agreement. How they have been applied will be Observed as the house proceeds to consider the agreement in committee. I believe it is such an agreement as will commend itself to the thoughtful and considered judgment of the house. I am already advised that it -commends itself to the business community of Canada in every part of it, and although at first sight there were some items that invited criticism, on further investigation it was found that there was no warrant for such criticism, nothing but a frank recognition of two great principles which have governed the negotiation of an agreement between two British commonwealths. We believe also this is a step towards the development of empire trade on sound lines, not of endeavouring to get without giving nor of giving without getting, but of giving and getting. That principle has governed and it will be the ultimate principle that will govern and prevail with respect to the development of trade throughout the British Empire.