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Australia wheat exports return to normal
MELBOURNE , Australia's wheat export programme is returning to normal after drought cut last season's crop so severely that supplies had to be rationed to world markets, exporter AWB Ltd said on Wednesday.
A significant amount of this year's forecast crop of 20-22 million tonnes of wheat had been committed and customers were waiting for the new harvest later this year to take delivery, managing director of the monopoly exporter, Andrew Lindbergh, told Reuters in an interview.
"Now that we've got a crop. I think that we're in pretty good order. The crop's improving and we're starting to get some sales on our books," he said, after speaking at the National Agricultural Commodities Marketing Association conference.
Lindbergh also revealed that AWB saw little hope of selling a contracted amount of 1.2 million tonnes of wheat into Iraq in calendar 2003, because of increased competition from other suppliers, including the United States.
Australia has been selling about two million tonnes of wheat into Iraq, about two-thirds of Iraq's imports, since the 1990s when Iraq stopped buying US wheat because of the Gulf War.
Now Australia and the United States, allies in the recent invasion, which toppled the government of Saddam Hussein, are strong rivals for Iraq's post-war wheat market.
AWB has shipped 410,000 tonnes into Iraq so far in 2003 and hoped to get another 300,000-400,000 tonnes into the country this year, Lindbergh said.
This left another 500,000 tonnes to go. "The prospects are that we won't be able to get that in until the part of '04," he said. "We'd be very disappointed if we didn't do in excess of a million tonnes," he said.
"It's still developing there but we remain determined if not confident to ensure that we continue to have a big slice of that market."
"There's no doubt the Americans will be in there.
MGR Archive 14.8.2003
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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