The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has accepted an access undertaking from Emerald Logistics Pty Ltd setting out arrangements for bulk wheat exporters using its Melbourne Port Terminal.
The access arrangements are largely similar to the existing arrangements put in place under the 2011 access undertaking.
“The ACCC considers that the arrangements will continue to provide bulk wheat exporters with fair and transparent access to Melbourne Port Terminal,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.
Emerald has amended its original March proposal after concerns were raised by industry stakeholders. Emerald has now specified that exporters should aim to accumulate 50% of grain by rail, whereas the original proposal referred to accumulating ‘a significant proportion’ by rail. Emerald has also made it clearer that exporters’ consent will be required before swapping grain stocks with other exporters to assist the efficient operation of the port. In addition, Emerald has clarified that the Indicative Access Agreement only applies to port terminal services, not up-country services.
As with the 2011 undertaking, the new undertaking obliges Emerald not to discriminate against other wheat exporters in favour of its own wheat trading division, or hinder access to port terminal services. Port terminal capacity will continue to be allocated on a first come, first served basis and Emerald will be obliged to negotiate terms of access with eligible wheat exporters (with the Indicative Access Agreement providing a starting point for those negotiations).
In accepting Emerald’s undertaking, the ACCC took into consideration that Melbourne Port Terminal is a relatively small facility that competes with GrainCorp’s bulk grain export terminal in Geelong.
The new undertaking will apply until 30 September 2014, after which port access is expected to be governed by a mandatory industry code of conduct.
The ACCC has a role in approving access undertakings for port terminal operators who also have bulk wheat export operations. The undertakings are intended to ensure that competing exporters are able to access the ports, ensuring fair competition in the market for bulk wheat exports.
Further information is available at http://www.accc.gov.au/regulated-infrastructure/wheat-export/emerald-logistics-services-2013/final-decision