AWB Limited has worked with the Australian government to re-open the Libyan market for Australian grain growers and is now capitalising on this opportunity, AWB Chairman, Mr Brendan Stewart said.
Speaking from Tripoli, Mr Stewart said that in the face of political difficulties, AWB and the Australian government had negotiated a diplomatic re-engagement with Libya which has allowed Australian wheat to flow to this market again.
Mr Stewart is accompanying the Australian Minister for Trade, the Hon. Mark Vaile MP, in the first official Australian government visit to Libya since 1987.
Libya imports around 1 million tonnes of milling and durum wheat annually. Since the difficulties experienced by Libya in the 1980s, AWB has continued to supply wheat to Libya, however this export program has at times been severely hampered by the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"AWB used the power of the Single Desk system to achieve re-engagement over the past few months and since then we have already completed a contract for more than 120,000 tonnes of durum wheat to Libya," Mr Stewart said.
"Following this visit I am confident we can build on this sale and further develop this market for Australian wheat.
"As the active manager of the Single Desk system, AWB has worked closely with the Australian government, particularly Minister Vaile, to ensure Australian growers get the same opportunities in this market as growers from Canada and Europe.
"Through AWB National Pool all Australian wheat growers have the opportunity to access new market opportunities such as the opening up of Libya.
"Without the Single Desk it difficult to see who would do this market development and government relations work in the interest of Australian growers.
"In the United States, growers and taxpayers pay directly for bodies such the US Wheat Associates to do this work. In comparison, in Australia AWB is out there pursuing these opportunities and when they are secured, under the Single Desk system, all Australian growers share in the benefits," Mr Stewart said.