The AWB delegation led by AWB’s Managing Director, Andrew Lindberg, returned from Iraq today after successful meetings with the Iraqi Minster of Trade, His Excellency Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, and the Chairman of the Grain Board of Iraq (IGB), Yousif Abdul-Rahman.
Mr Lindberg said at a media conference today that the Iraqi Ministry of Trade confirmed in a formal agreement between the IGB and AWB, that Iraq will resume all its Australian wheat imports for 2003 and beyond to normal levels, that is two million tonnes per annum, as long as the Australian Government promotes diplomatic solutions to the current situation in Iraq.
"Recently the signals out of Canberra have been encouraging and I urge both sides of Parliament to continue to actively promote peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the current situation regarding Iraq," said Mr Lindberg.
"I will be meeting with relevant Federal Government Ministers this week to discuss in detail the issues surrounding Iraq and future trade with them," said Mr Lindberg.
As previously stated the delegation resolved all quality issues concerning this year’s export program with the IGB following an extensive inspection of the vessels involved at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.
"This outcome will ensure that all current contracts for 2002 can now proceed with confidence," said Mr Lindberg.
"The agreement for 2003 is very significant for Australian wheat growers with this trade, valued at $800 million per year, a vital component of Australian wheat farmers’ financial returns and the Australian economy," said Mr Lindberg.
Mr Andrew Lindberg stated that AWB was warmly welcomed in Iraq and the IGB recognises the value of the Single Desk in having one Australian marketer of quality wheat exports.
"The Minister made it clear the Iraqi Government and people highly value the relationship, not only with AWB and Australian wheat growers, but with the Australian nation as a whole," said Mr Lindberg.
For the current marketing year AWB has already shipped approximately 1.3 million tonnes of wheat to Iraq. This resumption of trade will ensure AWB exports 1.8 million tonnes to Iraq in 2002.