CO-OPERATIVE Bulk Handling (CBH) has vowed to keep on resubmitting its two-million-tonne, Asian flou

15 Nov, 2006 08:45 PM
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Despite its first application being knocked back last week, CBH has vowed to maintain pressure on AWB in what is looming as a major battle for Australian wheat export rights.

CBH spokesperson Rhys Ainsworth said the company submitted a second license application to the Wheat Export Authority (WEA) almost immediately after AWB used its veto power to quash the licence bid.

Mr Ainsworth said CBH would pressure AWB next week for an answer on the new application.

³We can¹t walk away from this issue, we have to keep pushing it to ensure WA growers get the best deal they can,² he said.

Mr Ainsworth said more applications would follow if CBH¹s second bid was rejected, for as long as AWB continued to deny WA growers the opportunity to sell wheat through CBH.

He conceded he was not overly optimistic about the company gaining approval but believed there were no other options under the status quo.

Mr Ainsworth rejected criticism that CBH¹s license application was an opportunistic ploy to win public support and attention.

He denied criticism that CBH had a conflict of interest with its Asian flour mills.

³We have demonstrated our serious commitment to this issue with our five-year supply agreement with Interflour and by making a tangible reduction in storage and handling fees for WA growers,² Mr Ainsworth said.

³We are in this for the long haul.²

Last week Prima Limited, a rival of CBH¹s Asian joint ventures and a traditional buyer of Australian wheat since 1963, wrote to Prime Minister John Howard expressing concern about CBH¹s wheat export license application.

In a confidential letter obtained by Farm Weekly, Prima chairman and chief executive officer Cheng Chih Kwong accused CBH of having a conflict of interest and an unfair advantage over rival wheat export marketers.

But Mr Ainsworth suggested the claims were not genuine.

³We understand that AWB is attempting to coerce international customers into writing to the Federal Government and criticising the CBH Group¹s wheat pool,² he said.

³I think most WA growers would be pretty disappointed that AWB would engage in this type of conduct.

³The CBH Group is very keen to ensure that WA growers maintain good relationships with customers such as Prima and FFM and have recently written to both organisations to assure them of this commitment.

³I really think it is a pity that AWB don¹t focus their efforts on maximising returns to growers rather than running this type of inappropriate public relations campaign.²

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