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Australia AWB Expects More China Wheat Sales
Wheat exporter AWB Ltd. (AWB.AU) expects China will remain a good buyer of Australian wheat in the coming years, despite the People's Republic's aim for self sufficiency, Andrew Lindberg, managing director of the company, said Thursday.

But China, which has been a big buyer of Australian wheat over the past 15 months, is just one of a number of markets AWB aims to develop or expand with what he calls its "high quality package."

That includes South Asia, with the broad-based agribusiness and wheat export monopoly operator planning to open a trading office in New Delhi in April.

"Our view remains that China will be a good and important market for us in the year's ahead. There will be ebbs and flows from year to year," Lindberg told Dow Jones Newswires.

"We'll certainly continue to position ourselves well for any opportunities that do arise there," he said, doing a round of media interviews after the company's annual meeting of shareholders.

Lindberg indicated he was aware of comments late February by China's Ambassador to Australia, Fu Ying, who warned local farmers against expecting China to be a long-term source of import demand for grains. Fu said China was confident of achieving self sufficiency in food production.

AWB has already sold 2.5 million metric tons of wheat to China after a hiatus on imports of almost a decade ended December 2003, with the latest sale of 1.5 million tons announced Nov. 21, 2004.

Lindberg said in a world of static demand for wheat, AWB marketers are "always hard at it" to develop new markets and increase share of existing markets in Asia, Middle East and anywhere else.

AWB's big markets include Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan
MGR Archive 11.3.2005
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