The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released determinations to exempt Newcastle Agri Terminal’s (NAT) and Qube Holdings Limited’s (Qube) bulk wheat terminals at the Port of Newcastle from certain parts of the mandatory wheat Code.
“The ACCC believes that there is sufficient competition in the market for bulk wheat terminal services at the Port of Newcastle to warrant granting exemptions to NAT and Qube,”ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.
The ACCC’s view is that this level of competition creates incentives for NAT and Qube to provide fair and transparent access to wheat exporters at their bulk wheat terminals. The ACCC also considers that there is competition provided from the alternative and upstream markets for wheat.
“The ACCC considers that placing NAT and Qube on a level regulatory playing field with the already exempted GrainCorp is likely to further promote competition, lead to efficiencies, and encourage investment,” Commissioner Cifuentes said.
These decisions draw on the ACCC’s recent analysis of the level of competition in the Newcastle port zone.
Following these exemption determinations, the ACCC will continue to monitor all three bulk wheat port terminals at the Port of Newcastle to assess the level of competition into the future.
The ACCC will monitor shipping activity and the market concentration of exporters shipping grain from the three Newcastle bulk wheat terminals. In particular, the ACCC would be concerned if there was evidence of lessening competition after granting exemptions.
The ACCC intends to periodically consult with industry to seek information about exporters’ ability to access port terminal services in Newcastle following the exemptions.
The ACCC’s complete assessments of NAT and Qube can be found here: Newcastle wheat ports exemptions assessments - NAT and Qube
The wheat Code, which commenced on 30 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.
As exempt service providers, NAT and Qube will not be subject to a number of the Code’s provisions at the Port of Newcastle, including 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.
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