Australia beats USA to Pakistan grain deal

By Boyd Champness

UNITED States grain exporters were less than impressed when it was revealed last week that Australia had secured the second Pakistani tender for white wheat this season.

According to The Weekly Times, AWB Ltd sold Pakistan half a million tonnes of wheat last week, following a similar deal in November, with the grower-owned marketer hoping to secure more sales before the end of the year.

AWB general manager of global sales and marketing Nigel Officer told the newspaper that the company beat the USA to the deal “by a matter of cents”.

Washington Wheat Commission chief executive officer Tom Mick said although US exporters offered lower wheat prices, Australia won the tender due to its freight advantage.

“We were hoping to get at least half of the Pakistani business, and now were getting nothing because of the aggressive nature of the Australian Wheat Board,” he said.

He also accused AWB Ltd of cutting its price to secure the sale to avoid holding on to supplies in the wake of a larger than normal wheat crop.

But Mr Officer said AWB Ltd won the business without discounting its price and that there was an “element of sour grapes” in the American grain leaders comments.

Pakistan was Australias seventh largest wheat market in 1998-99, taking 1.1 million tonnes.

Until then, the USA had dominated the Pakistani market, namely because the USA actively provided export subsidies to Pakistan, according to Mr Officer.

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