06/08/2009 - 15:08

ACCC rejects CBH Group port proposal

06/08/2009 - 15:08

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The competition watchdog has rejected port access arrangements proposed by grain handlers CBH Group, ABB and Graincorp, saying there needed to be more clarity and transparency for wheat exporters.

The competition watchdog has rejected port access arrangements proposed by grain handlers CBH Group, ABB and Graincorp, saying there needed to be more clarity and transparency for wheat exporters.

The proposals were submitted as part of the deregulation of Australia's wheat industry, where the sector has moved from a single exporter to 23 accredited wheat exporters in the past 12 months.

One of the requirements of the deregulation was that port operators - CBH, ABB and GrainCorp - must have port access arrangements accepted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Today the ACCC said it had conducted a review of these arrangements, which included consultation with farmers, port operators and grain exporters.

"As a result, the ACCC has issued draft decisions today that it will not accept the access arrangements proposed by port operators CBH, ABB and Graincorp in their current form," the competition watchdog said in a statement.

"The ACCC considers that proposed port access arrangements developed by these three operators should provide greater clarity and transparency for Australian wheat exporters."

It added that the arrangements should

- recognise the need for port operators to have flexibility to operate their supply chains efficiently in the transitionary environment

- provide Australian wheat exporters with fair, transparent and non-discriminatory access to port terminal facilities, and

- provide transparent and clear processes for managing demand for port terminal services.

"Ensuring all wheat exporters have fair and non-discriminatory access to the ports will underpin a competitive wheat export industry," the ACCC said.

In a statement emailed to WA Business News, CBH Group chief executive Andrew Crane said while the group is disappointed, it will continue to work with the ACCC to conclude an acceptable port access arrangement.

"We will continue to work with the ACCC within the bounds of legislation and we remain confident that we will reach an acceptable outcome before 30 September, 2009," he said.

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