October 15, 2004



Australia Eyes More Iraq Wheat Sales


Australia could sell even greater quantities of wheat to Iraq after an apparent breakdown of talks between Baghdad and US exporter Cargill Inc, according to AWB Ltd.


This would follow Australia's winning bid to supply 1 million tons of wheat to Iraq over the next six months, announced by Australia's monopoly wheat exporter, AWB, on October 7.


Widespread market talk had it that the Iraqi Grains Board would follow up its Australian deal with the purchase of 500,000 tons of wheat from US grains trader Cargill.


AWB was speaking yesterday it was reported that Iraq had cancelled the purchase of 500,000 tons of wheat from Cargill because of a disagreement over price.


"We just signed a million so obviously we've got to ship that," AWB spokesman Peter McBride said.


"Obviously if the Iraqis require more wheat we'd welcome securing any contracts going forward," he said.


"We're always talking with the Iraqis and we're always willing to do further business with them."


Iraq has been Australia's largest or second-largest wheat export market in recent years after the country stopped buying US wheat in the early 1990s.


Despite competition from the US industry, which wants to re-claim market share in Iraq, AWB has been aiming to win half of Iraq's import market of around 3 million tons.


Its recent winning bid for 1 million tons has been hailed in Australia as a clear win. Views had differed on whether the wheat would be sourced from the United States or elsewhere.


Australia is the second-largest wheat exporter in the world, after the United States. It is currently growing a wheat crop of around 22 million tons which should yield around 17 million tons for export.