ABB grains chairman Perry Gunner has said his company is ready, willing and able to export wheat in

25 Oct, 2006 08:45 PM

Calls for changes to Australia¹s single desk wheat export system have arisen following allegations that AWB paid $290 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein¹s regime in Iraq in breach of UN sanctions.

With harvest looming, many growers are still undecided about what to do with their wheat due to their uncertainty over the national pool¹s future.

Mr Gunner said ABB would prove to be a secure option in the event that changes were made to the Wheat Marketing Act.

Speaking before the opening of the company¹s expanded malting facility in Forrestfield last week, Mr Gunner said the timing could not be better for the Federal Government to make legislative changes that would allow his company access to the wheat export market.

Mr Gunner said ABB had the infrastructure and experience to pick up where AWB left off, but did not discount the wheat export monopoly holder from becoming a part of the future competition in the event that any changes were made.

³ABB would be as effective as AWB has ever been at marketing wheat exports,² Mr Gunner said.

³We may need to get to know some of the customers but we know a lot of them already, because we already operate in those countries.

³We already do everything that needs to be done from the point of delivering grain by the growers to loading it onto the ships.

³Our co-ordination of the product would be better than AWB and we would continue to improve our co-ordination if we were selling our own wheat.

³I think the co-ordination would be a lot better because we would no longer have to wait for instructions from AWB, which is not necessarily the best thing.²

Mr Gunner said any productivity that may be lost by ABB in marketing wheat during the initial transition year, would be made up for in efficiency savings from the company¹s logistics.

³Within a year we would be right up to speed with marketing,² Mr Gunner said.

³Given that there is so little wheat to sell this year, it will not be as big an issue anyway if the change came in the next week or so; it¹s really when the big harvests come that the market becomes more important.²

Mr Gunner said ABB had a proven track record for selling wheat on the export market, which would assist them in the event that there were changes to the legislation.

The Wheat Australia consortium, made up of GrainCorp, ABB Grain and CBH, exported 350,000 tonnes of wheat to Iraq this year when AWB were banned from doing business with Baghdad.

³We certainly showed by selling wheat to Iraq this year that we can do it, and for us to do the same and export wheat to any other country would not be difficult,² Mr Gunner said.

³All three members of the Wheat Australia consortium are experienced grain exporters and already export grain to lots of countries and because of that we have the infrastructure and resources to facilitate export orders.²



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