PM Howard Discusses Wheat Exports to Iraq
Wheat Exports to Iraq
Today, together with the Deputy Prime Minister and other senior Ministers, I met the Executive Chairman and Acting Managing Director of AWB Limited to discuss the current tender for wheat in Iraq.
I emphasised that the Government was not pre-judging the outcomes of the Cole inquiry or making any judgements of AWB.
I also made it clear that the question of the single desk was a separate issue and not currently under consideration by the Australian Government.
The Government's principal concern is the wellbeing of Australian wheat growers.
The Government noted the statements by the Iraq Grain Board that business relations with AWB would be suspended until the results of the Cole inquiry were known.
The Government is continuing to make representations to the Iraqi Government on access for Australian wheat into the Iraqi market, noting reports that the tender process has been deferred.
Taking advantage of the time available from this deferral, the Government will send a delegation to Iraq to discuss the current Iraqi tender. The delegation will leave as soon as possible.
The delegation will be led by the Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister, the Hon Mark Vaile MP, and will include the Executive Chairman of AWB Limited, Mr Brendan Stewart, as AWB holds the wheat in the pool. The delegation will also include representatives of Australian wheat growers.
The delegation's goal is to protect the interests of Australian wheat growers and the value of the wheat in the Australian pool.
The delegation will explore all options to secure the continued access of Australian wheat to this important market. Among these options, AWB has indicated its willingness, on a voluntary basis, not to exercise its veto on this tender if necessary to secure a positive outcome for Australian wheat growers.
The Australian Government is committed to working with the Australian wheat industry to secure our long-standing markets and the best outcome for Australian wheat growers.