Tram Town
Friday, June 11, 2004
Category: Iraq
I don't recall reading about this anywhere: Australia to write off wheat debt. The Tullamarine Trotskyite Tribune carried a report which came from its New York correspondent, Caroline Overington. Why did the news eminate from NYC? Umm...
AWB [Australian Wheat Board] has recently become embroiled in controversy over wheat sales to Iraq under the UN oil-for-food program, which is being investigated for corruption. Iraqi officials have alleged that many of its food suppliers - including Australia - were forced to pay kickbacks to Saddam, in exchange for business.
The farmers appear to be taking it on the chin but it must be hurting them. How many of them have to share in this $100mill haircut? Or is it perhaps the AWB that takes the thumping so they are one step away from the problem? Whatever, selling on credit to Iraq must have been know to be a risky venture way back then.
The New Zealand Herald seems to understand it as well as most...
The outstanding amount was US$480.4 million, although sales were insured to a maximum of 80 per cent through Government insurer EFIC, which previously paid that amount to growers.
The balance owed to growers was $98 million.
Australia dominated Iraq's wheat market during the years of Saddam Hussein, exporting up to 2 million tonnes of the grain a year to the country after Baghdad authorities refused to buy US wheat after the Gulf War of the early 1990s.
Near as I can tell, just South of $400mill ($20 each I guess) is being picked up by you and I as unwilling proprietors of the EFIC. Does anyone understand this any better than this idiot?

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