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Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Page: 5218


Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice, on 15 August 2002:

(1) What volume and dollar value of wheat has Australia sold to Iraq in each of the following financial years: (a) 1990-91; (b) 1991-92; (c) 1992-93; (d) 1993-94; (e) 1994-95; (f) 1995-96; (g) 1996-97; (h) 1997-98; (i) 1999-2000; (j) 2000-01; and (k) 2001-02.

(2) What orders have been placed for the sale of Australian wheat to Iraq in the 2002-03 financial year and future years.

(3) What deliveries have been successfully completed in the 2002-03 financial year.

(4) What action, if any, has the Minister or the department taken to protect or increase Australian wheat sales to Iraq in the 2002-03 financial year.

(5) What other goods or services does Australia export to Iraq.

(6) What is the composition and value of these exports.

(7) How has the composition and value of these export changed since the 1990-91 financial year.


Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The following answer has been provided by the Minister for Trade:

(1) The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) treats data on the value of Australian wheat exports to all destinations in most years as confidential. Volume data for certain years is also confidential. The ABS does not publish details of confidential exports. Published ABS data show the following details of Australian wheat exports to Iraq:

Australian Wheat Exports to Iraq

Volume (Kt)

Value ($m)

(a) 1990-91

33.8

6.4

(b) 1991-92

220.0

42.4

(c) 1992-93

n.p.

n.p.

(d) 1993-94

n.p

n.p.

(e) 1994-95

31.0

n.p.

(f) 1995-96

50.3

n.p.

(g) 1996-97

583.6

n.p.

(h) 1997-98

1,179.3

n.p.

(i) 1999-2000

2,265.1

n.p.

(j) 2000-01

2,586.9

n.p.

(k) 2001-02.

2,245.1

n.p.

n.p. Data not published due to confidentiality restrictions.

(2) No orders have been placed for the sale of Australian wheat to Iraq in the 2002-03 financial year and future years. However, existing contracts provide for some of the wheat sold during 2001-02 to be delivered during 2002-03.

(3) ABS data show that wheat shipments totalling 313.1 kt, 166.4 kt and 199.8 kt left Australia for Iraq in May, June and July 2002 respectively. The majority of the shipments leaving in June and all of the wheat leaving during July 2002 would have been delivered to Iraq in 2002-03. As well, a proportion of the shipments leaving Australia in May might have been delivered to Iraq during 2002-03.

(4) The Australian Government shares the concerns of the international community at Iraq's refusal to provide a credible assurance that it is prepared to forego weapons of mass destruction. The Government remains hopeful that diplomacy can succeed in disarming Iraq so that it no longer constitutes a threat to the international community. Australia will not, however, be held hostage to threats of trade bans.

The Government is working closely with AWB Ltd to help it to access new markets and increase existing market share for Australian wheat exports. In July the Trade Minister, Mr Vaile, held productive talks with Libyan authorities to expand our existing market there. A 50,000 tonne export sale to Libya has been concluded since Mr Vaile's visit, and AWB Ltd recently secured a new 50,000 tonne wheat export contract with Jordan, the first major sale to Jordan since 1996-97.

In September Mr Vaile led a trade delegation, including AWB Ltd representatives, to Iran, one of Australia's top three wheat export markets. During that visit, Iran re-confirmed its intention to purchase a further 530,000 tonnes of Australian wheat.

(5) Other than wheat, Australian exports to Iraq between 1990-01 and 2001-02 have included flour, agricultural equipment, laboratory equipment and cooling equipment, as well as donations of medicine, food and personal items. Pure services exports are not permitted under the UN sanctions regime.

(6) Excluding confidential items, the value of Australian exports to Iraq ranged from a low of zero in 1995-96 to a peak of $427,000 in 2001-02. As noted in the answer to question (5), non-confidential exports to Iraq have included flour, agricultural equipment, laboratory equipment and cooling equipment, as well as donations of medicine, food and personal items.

(7) The composition and value of Australian exports to Iraq have shown little change since the 1990-91 financial year. Taken together, confidential exports and rural exports comprised over 99 per cent of total Australian exports to Iraq in each year between 1990-91 and 2001-02.