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Australia to resume wheat exports to Iraq

Australia to resume wheat exports to Iraq

Sydney: Iraq has announced that it is to lift the suspension of wheat imports from Australia, with the first cargoes expected to begin shipping as early as mid-year 2008. Iraq had imposed the ban in February 2006 following allegations that the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) had paid the Iraqi Government (led by Saddam Hussain) $222m to ensure wheat sales to the country.


The move to lift the suspension was agreed upon during a recent visit to Australia by the Iraqi Grain Board. ''We had very fruitful discussions that resolved many of the outstanding issues and we told the Australians we want to open a new chapter and resume purchasing wheat as soon as possible to meet Iraq's needs,'' a source involved in the talks told Reuters.

Australia by the Iraqi Grain Board. ''We had very fruitful discussions that resolved many of the outstanding issues and we told the Australians we want to open a new chapter and resume purchasing wheat as soon as possible to meet Iraq's needs,'' a source involved in the talks told Reuters.

The dispute over alleged shipment of contaminated Australian wheat cargoes in 2005 that preceded the suspension of contracts were a ''matter of the past'', added the source, without elaborating.


Traditionally Iraq has been a strong market for Australian wheat farmers, exporting up to 2.5m tonnes of the grain annually. Australia is eager to resume exports and is likely to offer initial discounted rates despite the drought to cement the renewed trade relationship.

Iraq has been a strong market for Australian wheat farmers, exporting up to 2.5m tonnes of the grain annually. Australia is eager to resume exports and is likely to offer initial discounted rates despite the drought to cement the renewed trade relationship.

''The goal for Australia is not to sell something right now. It's to get the relationship going again because Iraq was always one of their biggest customers,'' the trade source said. 

Rates for dry bulk vessels between Australia and the Middle East continue to be extremely high and are likely to be further boosted when sales resume.  [29/10/07]

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