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ACCC says more competition needed at SA and WA Grain Ports

  • By: Farm Tender "Prime"
  • Dec 19, 2017

The ACCC has today released its 2016-17 Bulk Wheat Ports Monitoring Report, which found concerns with some aspects of Australia’s bulk grain export supply chains.

This report examines the nature and concentration of export activity and capacity allocation across Australia’s bulk wheat port terminals

“While competition is emerging at some ports, other regions remain vertically-integrated near monopolies. This is particularly the case in South Australia and Western Australia where Viterra and CBH dominate the bulk grain export market supply chains and compete in the export market,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

“The ACCC is seeking to ensure that vertically-integrated owners of bulk wheat port infrastructure do not get an increasing and disproportionate share of wheat exports from Australia as a result of their ownership of bottleneck infrastructure.”

“We remain concerned about complaints over several years about the problems some exporters experience accessing bulk handling services both at port and along related supply chains,” Ms Cifuentes said.

The report highlights the continuing importance of the Port Terminal Access (Bulk Wheat) Code of Conduct (the Code).

“The Code plays an important role in ensuring port access for the exporters that buy grain from Australian growers. Despite emerging competition at some ports, we don’t consider that fair and transparent access to bulk export grain export services would be assured in the absence of the Code,” Ms Cifuentes said.

“Without fair and transparent port access, exporters may reduce their participation in export markets, reducing the marketing options for growers and ultimately the price that they can secure for grain.”

“In the absence of sufficient competition, ensuring port terminal access for all exporters on a fair and transparent basis is critical. This is particularly the case where there is limited competition in other parts of the supply chain,” Ms Cifuentes said.

“Given the current state of the Australian bulk grain export market, we consider industry-specific regulation for bulk wheat port terminal services remains necessary and the Code should not only be retained but should be improved and strengthened.”

The ACCC’s report is a result of significant consultation with growers, exporters, and port terminal service providers. It is available at: Bulk Wheat Ports Monitoring report 2016-17

Background

The ACCC has today released its submission to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources review of the Code, which is available at ACCC Submissions.

The ACCC monitors and enforces compliance with the Port Terminal Access (Bulk Wheat) Code of Conduct, and also has certain specific roles in relation to port terminal exemptions and capacity allocation systems. The Code regulates the conduct of bulk wheat port terminal service providers (PTSPs).

The ACCC will undertake monitoring of bulk wheat port terminal services to continue to assess the level of competition at both exempt and non-exempt facilities in the future.