AWB Limited today announced the outstanding 800,000 tonne wheat contracts to Iraq have now been honoured for immediate shipment.
AWB Limited Managing Director Andrew Lindberg said this culminated six months of intense activity at the international level, including an AWB delegation to Baghdad, to ensure the contracts would proceed.
"The two contracts were originally negotiated under the UN Oil-for-Food program which is scheduled to expire on 21 November 2003, however there has always been some uncertainty as to whether both would be honoured," said Mr Lindberg.
"We have done absolutely everything possible to defend the interests of Australian wheat farmers during this period, and given these contracts are worth in excess of $300 million, this announcement is not only a great relief but also a reason for some celebration.
"This is great news for the AWB National Pool and will bring much needed confidence to Australia’s wheat farmers.
"We take our responsibility to maximise returns to pool participants very seriously, and we have delivered our commitment to them in full.
"While this has certainly not been an easy accomplishment, the result clearly highlights the strength of the trade relationships and history AWB has established with Iraq, on behalf of Australian wheat growers, through the Single Desk marketing system.
"I also pay great credit to the unfailing support and assistance from Ministers Vaile and Downer, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and international government representatives.
Mr Lindberg said since the outbreak of hostilities, AWB had already delivered 400,000 tonnes of quality wheat to Iraq, which met urgent humanitarian requirements of the Iraqi people and reflected their specific preference for Australian wheat.
"The successful negotiation of the final 800,000 tonnes means the 1.2 million tonne contracts AWB had struck with Iraq prior to hostilities have now been honoured," Mr Lindberg said.
"We look forward to seeing what new arrangements will be put in place for future contractual opportunities. With a recognition of the excellent quality of Australian wheat, our proven reliability of supply, and our record of delivery for over 50 years, we will be well placed to successfully compete on a level playing field with any other suppliers," Mr Lindberg said.