Australia: Watchdog keeps eye on grain surcharges

The removal of a grain handling surcharge by GrainCorp in the Eastern States has ended an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation of it.

The ACCC launched an investigation in early 2016 into a $2.50 a tonne surcharge imposed by GrainCorp Operations on some exporting customers after Quattro Ports, a terminal operator competitor at Port Kembla, New South Wales, alerted it to the surcharge.

According to the ACCC, GrainCorp added the surcharge to customers for outloading grain delivered by rail from its upcountry storage and handling facilities to rival port terminals.

GrainCorp, the largest grain accumulator with the biggest storage, transport and handling network in eastern Australia, owns seven of the 10 bulk grain elevators operating at Eastern States’ ports.

At the end of 2015 Quattro opened its own grain terminal at Port Kembla in direct competition to the GrainCorp terminal there.

The issue of the surcharge was raised by Quattro, the ACCC said during public consultation early in the year for its Wheat Ports Code exemption assessment.

The code, administered by the ACCC, regulates bulk wheat port terminal operators to ensure exporters have fair and transparent access to terminal facilities.

As part of its role the ACCC can grant periodic exemptions from sections of the code to enable operators at specific ports to offer streamlined access to terminal services.

Full Content: Farm Weekly

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