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Canberra will not intervene in wheat deal: Australia Trade Min

Written by: Staff
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Melbourne, 12 May (UNI) While the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) has admitted there are quality concerns over its half a million tonne wheat deal with India, Australia's Trade Minister Mark Vaile has declined to take up the case with the concerned Indian authorities.

Reacting to a call by the Opposition Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman Kevin Rudd to write to India to bail out the beleaguered Australian monopoly wheat exporter, Mr Vaile refused to intervene in the situation saying it was a commercial deal and it would not be appropriate for the Minister to take it up on the governmental level.

The State Trading Corporation of India (STCI) had stopped unloading of the first consignment of 50,000 tonnes at Chennai accusing 'unacceptable' pesticides content in the Australian wheat.

The ban was lifted after the second laboratory test cleared the wheat consignment. An Australian delegation was also rushed to New Delhi to resolve Indian concerns. But the unloading of the second ship has been stopped by the Indian authorities once again.

While two ships are reportedly unloading in Chennai, three ships, as part of the 90 million dollar shipment, are waiting in Australian ports for an Indian permission to sail to Indian ports.

Spokesman for AWB Christian Sealey said the company is working through the issues with Indian officials.

''There's been some discrepancy between how AQIS (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) has worded the contract and how the Indian Government, or our Indian customers, have worded it,'' Mr Sealey told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the AWB is looking for alternative markets for the loaded grain in case India does reject the shipments.

UNI XC CS GC1133

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