AWB Limited today announced it had a high level delegation in Iraq negotiating over future wheat sales and current quality issues.
The delegation is headed by AWB Limited’s Managing Director Mr Andrew Lindberg who stated that AWB has been warmly welcomed in Iraq and is confident that progress will be made with the vessels currently subject to quality issues.
"In meetings with the Iraq Grain Board (IGB) it was agreed that both parties would work together to solve these current issues and clear the way for the full resumption of our current contract for the supply of 500,000 tonnes of Australian wheat, which is part of a 1.8 million tonne export program this year," said Mr Lindberg.
The delegation held high-level discussions with the Minister for Trade, His Excellency Mohamed Medhi Saleh.
"During the two and a half hour meeting, the Minister made it clear the Iraqi Government and people highly value the relationship, not only with the AWB and Australian wheat growers, but with the Australian nation as a whole," said Mr Lindberg.
His Excellency Mohamed Medhi Saleh stated he took no pleasure in seeking to reduce future wheat commitments in response to the Australian Government’s perceived hostile position towards Iraq.
The Minister reiterated the positive and friendly relations between the IGB and AWB.
The Iraqi Government has not forgotten that AWB was the first company to recommence supply of wheat following the cessation of hostilities during the Gulf War.
The Minister made it clear that Iraq wish to resume and increase future business with AWB on the basis that the Australian Government supports diplomatic solutions to the current situation in Iraq,’ said Mr Lindberg.
AWB and the Australian wheat single desk are greatly supported in Iraq which represents an $800 million market for the Australia wheat farmer.
"I believe the Australian Government supports diplomatic solutions to the current Iraqi situation and we will be meeting with key Ministers upon return to Australia to brief them on the latest situation," said Mr Lindberg.
"I am hopeful that the trust and goodwill that has been built up between the people of Iraq and Australia through our 50 year trading relationship in trading wheat will facilitate diplomatic solutions and increased trade into the future," said Mr Lindberg.
The AWB delegation will be visiting the port of Umm Qasr today and AWB will be in a better position to comment on the issues surrounding quality claims on Australian wheat vessels on the return of the delegation on Tuesday 20th August.
Historically, AWB sells approximately 2 million tonnes to Iraq each year under the United Nations’ Food-for-Oil Program. For the current marketing year AWB has already shipped approximately 1.3 million tonnes of wheat to Iraq. In addition, AWB has recently contracted to sell another 500,000 tonnes, which will bring total exports to Iraq to 1.8 million tonnes for the year.