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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 112

Mr Forrest asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, in writing, on 10 November 2008:

Will he confirm that, as a result of the Gulf War, Australian wheat growers were not fully paid for wheat exported to Iraq in the years 1987-90; if so, what is being done to recover these unpaid sums, which would be very beneficial to wheat growers currently struggling financially because of the drought.

Mr Burke (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Iraq defaulted on payments of US$476 million relating to sales contracts for wheat shipped prior to the Gulf War.

These shipments were insured by the Australian Government through the National Interest Account of the Export Finance Insurance Corporation, which provided cover for 80 per cent of the amounts involved. The government paid the former Australian Wheat Board (AWB) the insured sum of US$381.2 million which was distributed to growers.

In November 2004, the previous Australian government and 17 other creditor nations agreed to forgive 80 per cent of Iraq’s total debt. This included its debt to Australia which amounted to US$1,072 million at that time. The agreement requires Iraq to repay the remaining 20 per cent of the debt between 2011 and 2028.