us farmers eye australia-iraq wheat contract

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    The Federal Opposition has accused the United States of waiting in the wings to steal Australia's $800 million wheat contract with Iraq.

    US wheat marketers are making no secret of the fact that they will compete strongly against Australia to supply the lucrative Iraq market in the wake of a war.

    Labor trade spokesman Craig Emerson says the Federal Government must seek reassurance from the US urgently that if it wins a war and installs a new administration in Iraq the contract will remain in place.

    The head of the Australian wheat exporter AWB Limited told growers last week that he fears the US could take the market.

    Mr Emerson says the Federal Government must rein in the US or risk the contract.

    "We want the Government to seek assurances from the United States that Australia will not be done in the eye in terms of our wheat exports to Iraq by the displacement of those exports through a US food program, such that US grain displaces Australian exports of wheat to Iraq," he said.

    Australia exports wheat to Iraq under the United Nations food for oil program and AWB Limited says it has been reassured by the UN that regardless of any change the contract is secure.

    Barbara Spangler, executive director of the US marketing body Wheat Tec, says it is only fair the US is allowed to compete for the contract.

    "I can assure you that our industry would be pushing our government to open every path we could to get in there and regain market share," she said.

    "It's as pure as economics. If if they become a trader again on the world market, we'd certainly want the opportunity to compete for the sales."
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