ACCC backs wheat terminal access pledges

Agri-bussinesses with export terminals agree to four-point arrangement in dealings with exporters

By Rob McKay | September 30, 2011

Three of the country’s biggest
agri-businesses have gained Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) green lights for their export infrastructure access arrangements.

The agreements cover Viterra’s six South Australian port facilities, Co-operative Bulk Handling’s (CBH) four in Western Australia and Australian Bulk Alliance’s Melbourne port terminal and will last from next month to September 2014.

The companies have agreed:

· not to discriminate or hinder access to port terminal services

· clear and transparent port loading protocols for managing demand for port terminal services

· negotiate in good faith with eligible wheat exporters for access to port terminal services

· to allow wheat exporters dispute mediation or arbitration on access terms.

Of the three, Viterra has experienced the biggest change to its operating procedures, having to institute an auction system.

The ACCC had rejected the continuation of the ‘first come, first served’ (FCFS) capacity allocation arrangements due to only Viterra and one other exporter being able to access Viterra’s deep water port terminals at Port Lincoln and Adelaide’s Outer Harbour in the peak months of January to April 2012.

The ACCC hopes to raise the number of exporters in the peak period from three to seven.

CBH already operates an auction system, which the ACCC favours.

"The existing auction system for allocating capacity at CBH ports has promoted competition amongst wheat exporters in Western Australia, which has benefited farmers and the export industry," ACCC chairman Rod Sims says.

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