News last update:6 Aug 2012

Australia remains world's 5th-largest wheat exporter

Australia maintained its position as the fifth-largest global exporter of wheat in 2009-10. Exports to China increased in 2009/10 and imports of Australian wheat by Middle Eastern countries decreased, Wheat Exports Australia said.

According to industry regulator Wheat Exports Australia (WEA) the country exported 12.1 million tonnes (mt) of bulk wheat to 36 countries, and 2.5 mt in containers and bags to 46 countries in the Australian marketing year ended Sep. 30, 2010.
The total global wheat trade reached 127 mt in the international trade year that ended June 30, 2010, WEA said.
Australia's top six bulk wheat exporters shipped 9.6 mt and accounted for 79% of total bulk exports in 2009-10. The top four exporters each shipped in excess of 1.0 mt of bulk wheat, accounting for 64% of Australian bulk wheat exports.
Position challenged
Historically, Australia has held a position in the top five major wheat-exporting countries, but in recent years this position has been challenged by growing exports from the former Soviet Union states of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
About 20% of global wheat production is sold internationally, with the trade averaging 115 mt a year in the 10 years ended 2009-10, peaking with growth of 41% to 143 mt in 2008-09, WEA reported.
Shifts in trade
The regulator identified other major shifts in the global trade that might have a significant impact on Australia, including changes in demand from China, which as the world's biggest producer, has the potential to significantly impact world trade depending on its production and grain stocks.
Australian wheat exports to China nearly tripled to 647,000 tonnes in 2009-10. Middle Eastern countries cut imports to around 10 mt in 2009-10 as a result of an increase in domestic production and stagnant domestic consumption, a contraction that has had a significant impact on Australia's wheat exports.
Historically, around 40% of Australia's wheat exports went to the Middle East, but in the five years ended 2009-10 this fell to 2.0 million tons, or 14% of total exports.
The Iraq war and past limitations on the Australian wheat trade to Iraq were major factors behind this change, but Australia has also faced increasing competition from traditional rivals such as the US and Canada, and newer competitors, such as India.
However in 2009-10, Saudi Arabia almost ceased domestic wheat production and has recommenced importing, wheat offering further potential for Australian exports to the region.

Dick Ziggers

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