THE AUSTRALIAN Competition and Consumer Commission has called for the Port Terminal Access (Bulk Wheat) Code of Conduct to be allowed to sunset on 1 October 2024.

In its submission paper to the second review of the Wheat Port Code – published this past week – the ACCC said the code increasingly applies to smaller-scale providers of bulk grain export loading services that already face strong competition.

The commission said the code may discourage potential new-entrant service providers from entering the market, and harming those that do.

The submission also pointed out that the code lacks clear and enforceable obligations.

“The market for bulk grain export port terminal services has changed significantly since the code commenced,” the ACCC wrote.

“For example, novel types of infrastructure and/or business models have been introduced by new entrant port terminal service providers (including the use of mobile ship loaders), and numbers of both port terminal service providers and facilities have increased.”

The submission said it is the ACCC’s view that the code is ineffective and now potentially harms competition in the market for Australian bulk grain export port terminal services.

“The ACCC has formed the view that it is not clear that the code strikes the right balance between regulatory burden and the benefits it delivers,” the ACCC wrote.

“Based on the ACCC’s experience in administering the code, it is not fit for purpose.”

The submission also acknowledges that a small number of large vertically integrated service providers (companies that provide bulk grain storage, handling and port terminal services), continue to handle and export most of the bulk grain exported from Australia.

Additionally, it also acknowledges that the level of market concentration and vertical integration in Australian bulk grain exports may give rise to competition concerns.