Bunge may get port exemption

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian

Bunge could be put on a level regulatory playing field with CBH, after a proposal by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to exempt WA Chip & Pulp Co (WAPRES) from having to comply with parts 3 to 6 of the Mandatory Port Access Code of Conduct for Grain Export Terminals.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce last year released the mandatory code of conduct for Australian grain exporters, but granted CBH an exemption on the basis it was a farmer-owned co-operative.

Now the ACCC is proposing WAPRES, which operates Bunge's grain export facility at Bunbury, become exempt from having to comply with Parts 3 to 6 of the code. Taking effect from September 2014, the code regulates bulk wheat port terminal service providers to ensure exporters have fair and transparent access to the terminal facilities.

Parts 3 to 6 of the code include obligations to provide non-discriminatory access, resolve access disputes through prescribed processes, get ACCC approval for capacity allocation systems and publish certain information. However, exempt service providers are still obliged to deal with exporters in good faith and publish information about how capacity is allocated.

In a 20-page submission to the ACCC, WAPRES said for the Bunbury-based port terminal to be viable, it must be able to compete with CBH's port terminals for the export of bulk grains.

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The ACCC invites submissions from interested parties on its draft determination. The closing date is September 14.

Bunge made seven shipments of wheat and barley, totalling 250,000 tonnes, from its $40 million Bunbury terminal last year, in its first year of operation, and is aiming to double exports in its second year.

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