The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a final determination granting an exemption to WA Chip & Pulp Co Pty Ltd (WAPRES) from having to comply with Parts 3 to 6 of the Wheat Code at its Bunbury bulk wheat port terminal.
“The ACCC considers that WAPRES faces sufficient competition at its Bunbury facility to warrant reducing the level of regulation it faces under the Code,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.
This exemption follows public consultation by the ACCC on its draft determination to exempt the WAPRES facility. The ACCC received two submissions – from the Australian Grain Exporters Association (AGEA) and Western Australian Farmers Federation. Both supported granting the exemption.
“The ACCC considers that exporters will continue to have a viable option for grain grown in the Bunbury catchment area to be transported to CBH’s Kwinana or Albany port terminals, especially given CBH’s extensive upcountry network,” Ms Cifuentes said.
“In the absence of full regulation under the Code, WAPRES will continue to face strong competition for bulk wheat volumes from these CBH’s terminals.”
CBH has already been granted an exemption at its WA ports by the Minister for Agriculture. Granting an exemption to WAPRES places it on a level regulatory playing field with CBH.
Consistent with its approach to exemptions at other ports, the ACCC will undertake monitoring of the bulk wheat terminals and level of competition in WA.
The ACCC’s assessment process and reasons for exempting the WAPRES port terminal facility at Bunbury are set out in its final determination document.
The 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 a result of the exemption, WAPRES will not be subject to a number of the Code’s provisions at this port, 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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