Saturday, April 16, 2005


Who is disparaging Australian wheat?

The Iraqi Grain Board is in a dispute with the Australian Wheat Board over the completion of a wheat contract to Iraq, which is considered to be "one of Australia's most important wheat markets." According to The Australian, Mr. Khalil Assi, director general of the Iraqi Grain Board, claims that the Australians have found evidence of iron contamination in a pending shipment of wheat and the Australians are denying it.
"The Australian team have discovered the iron dust. For that, the Australians will pay the $US12 ($15.6) per ton for removing the contamination from the wheat," he [Assi] said.

But an AWB spokesman said tests on the wheat, conducted in Australia in recent days, had shown it was completely clear of any problems.

"We reject any allegation of contamination," he said.

The dispute is critically affecting a pending shipment.

Two ships are set to dock at the port of Umm Qasr within 48 hours, completing the million tonne contract.

Now what seems really to lay behind all this is another wheat contract that is under negotiation that's worth more than a half billion Australian dollars (about US$385 million).

Our Australian partners in the Iraqi Coalition are suspicious—

President of the US Wheat Associates organisation, Alan Tracy, today attacked former AWB chairman Trevor Flugge who this week suggested misinformation about Australia's wheat exports might be coming from America.

Mr Tracy said Mr Flugge was making incendiary and over the top comments.

"We are out to win Iraqi wheat business by providing a good product, reliable export performance and an open exchange of information," he said.

"US Wheat Associates has no knowledge of any problems with Australian wheat and we have said nothing to disparage their product."

The controversy follows claims by Pakistan last year that a shipment of wheat was contaminated by karnal bunt.

AWB proved the wheat was free of the disease, and since then has exported 600,000 tonnes to Pakistan.

Pakistan is another U.S. poster child. Well, if this isn't a fine kettle of frumenty!

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