Companies granted Bulk Wheat Port Code exemptions

Final determinations that exempt Riordan Grain Services and Semaphore Container Services from having to comply with certain parts of the mandatory Bulk Wheat Code have been issued.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has decided that the code would present both companies with “significant competitive constraint” at their respective Port of Geelong and Port Adelaide facilities.

“GrainCorp and Viterra are the dominant providers of bulk wheat port terminal services at the Port of Geelong and Port Adelaide respectively,” said ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes.

“In the absence of full regulation under the code, Riordan and Semaphore will continue to face strong competition.”

The code, which was rolled out in September 2014, regulates bulk wheat port terminal service providers to ensure that exporters have fair and transparent access to terminal facilities.

Where appropriate, the ACCC may reduce regulation at a specific port terminal by exempting the relevant port terminal service provider from certain provisions of the code.

The exemptions mean that Riordan and Semaphore will not need to comply with Parts 3 to 6 of the Port Terminal Access (Bulk Wheat) Code of Conduct at their respective facilities.

These include obligations to provide non-discriminatory access, resolve access disputes through prescribed processes, get ACCC approval for capacity allocation systems, and publish certain information.

Exempt service providers are still obliged to deal with exporters in good faith and publish information about how capacity is allocated and the current state of the shipping stem.

Exempt service providers must also comply with general competition law. The exemptions follow public consultation by the ACCC on its draft determinations proposing to exempt the Riordan and Semaphore facilities.

The ACCC received two submissions in response to its determinations. Grain Producers Australia supported both exemptions, while Grain Producers SA, which commented specifically on Semaphore, supported Semaphore’s exemption.

Consistent with its approach to exemptions, the ACCC will continue to undertake monitoring of the bulk wheat terminals in Victoria and South Australia.

“The ACCC considers that it is appropriate to reduce the level of regulation that will apply to these relatively smaller scale, new entrant service providers,” Ms Cifuentes added.

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