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Australian wheat approved for immediate delivery to Iraq.

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Media Release

7 September 2003 - MVT73/2003

Australian Wheat Approved for Immediate Delivery to Iraq

United Nations approval for the immediate delivery of AWB Ltd’s remaining wheat contracts in the UN Oil-for-Food pipeline to Iraq was great news for Australia’s wheat growers, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.

The two contracts total 800,000 tonnes and are valued at more than $300 million. Combined with an earlier contract of 400,000 tonnes, AWB Ltd has now been contracted to provide 1.2 million tonnes of wheat to Iraq since resumption of the Oil-for-Food program on 28 March.

“This tremendous result is the culmination of many months of close cooperation between the Federal Government and AWB Ltd to secure these contracts for Australia,” Mr Vaile said. “Strong support from the Iraqi Ministry of Trade for the honouring of the Australian contracts was a key factor in this outcome. This reflects the strong Iraqi preference for the prime white wheat for which Australian wheat farmers are justifiably famous.

“The decision to honour these contracts will ensure that an adequate supply of this quality Australian product can continue to flow to Iraq following the end of the UN Oil-for-Food program in November.”

Australian wheat was among the first shipments of humanitarian aid to Iraq following the conflict. Australia has provided an average of two million tonnes of wheat per year to Iraq under the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program which began in 1996.

New procurement arrangements will be introduced into Iraq following the end of the Oil-for-Food program in November.

“The Coalition Government is committed to maintaining market access in Iraq for the 45,000 Australian wheat farmers and their families who depend on exports for their livelihoods,” Mr Vaile said.

“For more than 50 years Australian wheat growers have provided the Iraqi people with high quality wheat, on a timely and reliable basis. Australian wheat growers should be well-placed to compete in an open market on a level playing field with other international suppliers.”

Mr Vaile said this outcome is another example of why the Federal Government is a committed supporter of the single desk for bulk wheat exports, which gives branding and marketing advantages to Australian wheat farmers.

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