Australians Mull Future of Single-Desk Trading Approach

Trouble at AWB Ltd., formerly the Australian Wheat Board, has that country's groups choosing sides in the future of the single-desk marketing idea.

Published on: Nov 24, 2006
The Cole Report is set to be released next week in Australia. This report, which examines AWB Ltd., the corporation that manages single-desk wheat trade for the country, already has groups positioning with their approaches for marketing in the future. The Grains Council - a growers' group - is calling for changes that would end AWB's single desk monopoly. However, this group is also asking that the single-desk idea would be retained.

Their approach would be to create a new holder of the single-desk that would be grower-owned and controlled. The aim would be to get the single-desk back to its focus on growers, not shareholders, according to the group.

The reports, printed this week in Rural Press weekly newspapers, show that AWB is under fire from sections of the grower community for placing its shareholders above its charter to maximize returns for pool participants. The Grains Coucil says all commercial wheat export services would be contestable, meaning an end to the AWB Ltd. "stranglehold" of key pool services.

Meanwhile, Rural Press also reports that lobbying by exporters is heading up in Canberra, the country's capital. The Australian Grain Exporters Association is promoting its argument for deregulation of export wheat. The group, representing major exporters including Cargill and Louis Dreyfus, wants AWB stripped of its power to veto bulk wheat exports. The export group also wants no restrictions on competition among buyers for export, phasing in the free market over a two-year transition period.