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AWB to tender wheat sale to Iraqi Wheat Board
The Australian, April 14, 2004
MONOPOLY wheat exporter AWB is to tender for the sale of 200,000 tonnes of wheat to Iraq, the country's first purchase since it regained control of its grain imports.

The sale is an important one for AWB, the former Australian Wheat Board, which is fighting to maintain its share of the Iraqi market in the face of an aggressive push from the US, which had been unable to sell to Iraq for the past decade due to trade sanctions.

Iraq's wheat imports have been handled by the United Nations under the World Food and Food for Oil programs since the mid-1990s.

But as coalition forces prepare to hand over sovereignty to an Iraqi government, authority for wheat purchases has been given back to the Iraqi Wheat Board.
The re-entry of heavily subsidised US wheat to the Iraqi market is a threat to Australian wheat exports of up to 2 million tonnes a year, worth about $400 million.

However, AWB received some encouragement last month when it secured the lion's share of a 630,000 tonne tender conducted by the World Food Program on Iraq's behalf, leaving the US to pick up less than a third of the contract.

Word of the new Iraq tender came as AWB announced a record $970 million first distribution from sales of its 2003-04 wheat pool. The distribution related to returns on wheat from the most recent harvest and delivered to buyers between December and March.

Pool manager David Johnson said AWB had already delivered about 26 per cent of the pool, up from about 15 per cent over the same period in previous years.

Sales were stronger than normal because there was little wheat left over from the previous harvest, which had been drastically reduced by the impact of drought.

"We were able to start pricing and shipping this harvest more aggressively than if we had wheat left over from previous years," he said.

Despite the most recent harvest weighing in at a record 25 million tonnes, Mr Johnson said he was confident the majority would be sold within the year.

"We exported 9.5 million tonnes last year, and we are on track to almost double that this year," Mr Johnson said.
MGR Archive 14.4.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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