|Host country Canada|
|Date 21 July 1932–
18 August 1932|
Venue(s) House of Commons chamber, Parliament Hill
Chair R. B. Bennett (Canadian Prime Minister)
The British Empire Economic Conference (also known as the Imperial Economic Conference or Ottawa Conference) was a 1932 conference of British colonies and the autonomous dominions held to discuss the Great Depression. It was held between 21 July and 20 August in Ottawa.
The conference saw the group admit the failure of the gold standard and abandon attempts to return to it. The meeting also worked to establish a zone of limited tariffs within the British Empire, but with high tariffs with the rest of the world. This was called "Imperial preference" or "Empire Free-Trade" on the principle of “home producers first, empire producers second, and foreign producers last”. The result of the conference was a series of bilateral agreements that would last for at least 5 years. This abandonment of open free trade led to a split in the British National Government coalition: the Official Liberals under Herbert Samuel left the Government, but the National Liberals under Sir John Simon remained.
The conference was especially notable for its adoption of Keynesian ideas such as lowering interest rates, increasing the money supply, and expanding government spending.
The United States were annoyed by the implementation of Imperial Preference as it affected them economically.
It was the last Imperial Conference that any Irish government ever participated in, and also the last that Newfoundland attended as an independent Dominion.
British Empire Economic Conference delegates attended services at St. Matthew's Anglican Church (Ottawa) 7/26/1932.
Heads of delegations
The conference was hosted by the Governor General of Canada, The Earl of Bessborough, representing King George V and included the Prime Ministers and other leaders of the Empire and members of their respective cabinets: