ACCC finds Port of Brisbane grain trade competition alive and healthy

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PHOTO: ACCC to relax regulations on bulk grain terminal operators at the port of Brisbane (Jo Prendergast)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is planning to exempt grain handlers Queensland Bulk Terminals (QBT) and GrainCorp from parts of the Wheat Port Code of Conduct at the Brisbane bulk wheat export terminals.

ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said a review showed there was healthy competition at the Port.

“The ACCC’s draft view is that the two Brisbane port terminals face sufficient competitive pressures to warrant granting both port terminal operators exemptions from certain parts of the code when providing services at their Brisbane facilities,” Ms Cifuentes said.

“What we found was they were both effective competitors with each other and there was also competition from containerised wheat exports, as well as from domestic demand.”

In 2012, 1.7 million tonnes of grain and other cereals were exported through the Port of Brisbane.

The growth area in the export trade is the increasing proportion of grain exported by container, which has grown to around 20 per cent of the trade.

The review is one of many being undertaken by the ACCC, looking at competition in grain exports at Australian ports.

“[The report] considers what sort of market is operating, where the grain comes from, how it can be transported to the port, what sort of access there is to the port terminal, how many operators there are, whether the operators are vertically integrated, do they have their own trading arms that they tend to favour,” she said.

“There is a whole range of areas we look at, as well as where else growers could sell their grain, whether they can use road transport and the containerised wheat market or the domestic market.”

“There are a whole range of factors we look at to determine what sort of levels of competition there are.”

Ms Cifuentes said the ACCC ruling is likely to have little noticeable impact on grain growers.]

McConchie, R. (2015). ACCC finds Port of Brisbane grain trade competition alive and healthy. ABC. [online] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-27/acccc-grain-port-brisbane-exemption/6730276 [Accessed 17 Dec. 2015].