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Warning on deliveries

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PI85/ 298 23 December 1985


Companies trading with Middle East countries have been warned by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr John Kerin, of dissatisfaction about deliveries.

Mr Kerin, who recently returned from a tour of five Middle East countries, said that a general theme of discussions was the problem of delivery of goods.

"Orders have been lost for meat and delays in wheat shipments have caused great concern," Mr Kerin said.

"Australians must realise we are a small trading country, that lives by trade, living in a world that is increasingly competitive."

Mr Kerin said that maintaining personal contact with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates was very important in times of difficult agricultural commodity markets.

Mr Kerin was accompanied by Mr Clinton Condon, the Chairman-elect of the Australian Wheat Board, and Mr Bill Tunbridge, the Middle East representative of the Australian Meat and Live-stock Corporation.

The visit followed an invitation from the Saudi Arabian Minister of Agriculture and Water, His Excellency Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikn who visited Australia in April 1984.

"Dr Al-Sheikh was very impressed with Australia's expertise in arid land farming and was keen to explore ways of improving Saudi agricultural output" Mr Kerin said.

Mr Kerin gave the Saudi Government Australia's assurance that it would remain a reliable supplier of high quality agricultural commodities such as barley, dairy and horticultural products, livestock and meat.

The Australian delegation was impressed by the progress towards self sufficiency in some food items but Mr Kerin noted that "the philosophy espoused by the National Agricultural Development Company of 'production with the help of God and

unlimited subsidies' may help Saudi agricultural production but it means that Australian producers will need to develop specialist markets in the area.

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"Technical expertise is an export that Australians should look to expand," Mr Kerin said.

The Australian delegation was accompanied in Saudi Arabia by a number of private businessmen with interests in the area.

Mr Kerin also had discussions with the Foreign Minister, the Minister for Finance, the Minister of Commerce and the Deputy Commander of the National Guard. Included in the program were visits to the Qassim and Hofuf regions where major agricultural

projects have been developed.

In Bahrain, Mr Kerin had discussions with the Amir Shaikh Isa Bin Sulman Al-Khalifa. and the Minister for Agriculture and Commerce, His Excellency Habib Qassim.

"Bahrain is an important specialist market for a range of Australian agricultural products," Mr Kerin said.

"The potential exists for a broadening of this, especially after the recent Government initiatives allowing more flexible air freight arrangements."

"Discussion on ways to offset the trade imbalance between Egypt and Australia were an important aspect of the Egyptian leg of the trip," Mr Kerin said.

Meetings were held with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Dr Ali Lutfy Mahmoud Lutfy, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, the Minister for Supply and Home Trade, the Minister for Planning and International Cooperation and the Minister for Economy and

Foreign Trade. The steps Egypt is taking to improve the economy and living standards were also discussed.

"Egypt is Australia's largest wheat customer and is obviously pleased at the outcome of recent negotiations in Australia on 1986 wheat sales," Mr Kerin said.

Mr Kerin also inspected ieedlot and refrigeration facilities at Suez and a major agricultural project in the Nile Delta.

He also met with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and had a wide ranging exchange of views on Middle Eastern affairs.

In Kuwait, Mr Kerin visited a number of agricultural projects and had meetings with the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce as well as the Minister for Works, who has overall responsibility for Agriculture.

"I also spoke at length with the Chairman of Kuwait Livestock Transport (KLTT) Mr Al-Muneffi and Mr Al-Sagar who is Chairman of Kuwait Flour Mills," Mr Kerin said.



"Α common theme through the trip was the live sheep trade," Mr Kerin said. "I was able to reassure our customers throughout the Middle East that the Australian Government supports the live sheep trade but that the welfare of the sheep is extremely


In Dubai Mr Kerin met with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and officials and had wide ranging discussions on agricultural co-operation. Large greenhouse and nursery projects were also visited along with the National Agriculture Research complex.

"The Middle Eastern countries have set a high priority in achieving self sufficiency in basic foodstuffs," Mr Kerin said. "This requires high levels of subsidy and capital investment by the various governments".

Mr Kerin said that the trip had provided the opportunity to renew acquaintances and provide new opportunities to find out at first hand the role that Australia can play with its agricultural products and, just as importantly, agricultural and technical expertise.

Further information: Lin Enright (062) 726649