The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a draft determination proposing to exempt 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’s draft view is that WAPRES will face sufficient competitive constraint to warrant granting it an exemption from certain parts of the Code when providing services at its Bunbury facility,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.
The ACCC’s preliminary assessment is that, if an exemption is granted to WAPRES, it is likely to remain 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. The ACCC considers that in the absence of full regulation under the Code, WAPRES will continue to face strong competition for bulk wheat volumes from CBH’s terminals.
“Granting an exemption to WAPRES would place it on a level regulatory playing field with CBH, who is the dominant provider of port terminal services in WA and has already been granted an exemption at its WA ports by the Minister for Agriculture,” Ms Cifuentes said.
If the ACCC makes a final determination to exempt WAPRES in relation to its Bunbury terminal, the ACCC will undertake monitoring of the bulk wheat terminals and level of competition in WA. The ACCC has taken a similar approach following exemption determinations regarding port terminals in other port zones.
The ACCC’s draft determination in relation to the WAPRES port terminal facility at Bunbury is set out in its draft determination document.
The ACCC invites submissions from interested parties on its draft determination. The closing date for submissions is Monday 14 September 2015.
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.
If the ACCC makes a final determination to grant an exemption to WAPRES at its Bunbury facility, 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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