I.W.C. conference addresses changing politics, commercial aspects of world grain trade after GATT
September 01, 1994
by Teresa Acklin
A record 250 delegates from nearly 60 countries converged on London at the end of June for the third World Grain Conference. For the International Wheat Council, which organizes the event, this was the most successful conference so far.
The event was the first international conference on world grain trade to be held since the signing of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in Marrakesh, Morocco, in April. Built around the theme “Adjusting to a new trading environment,” the program set out to cover both the political and commercial aspects of dismantling the structures of subsidy-supported farming and exporting.
From the wide ranging program emerged a picture of the changes taking place not only as a result of the GATT agreement, but also of the political changes taking place in countries such as the former Soviet Union and China. Most policy makers are also paying lip service, at least, to the importance of the environment, both in strategic and economic terms.
The conference kicked off with the implications of the GATT agreement and new domestic farm reform measures for three of the world's biggest grain producers the United States, Canada and Australia. U.S. Undersecretary of Agriculture Eugene Moos; Lorne Hehne, chief commissioner of the Canadian Wheat Board; and Neal Blewett, the Australian High Commissioner in London, all welcomed the opportunities opened by the GATT agreement, but were cautious as to the speed and extent of changes in world production and trade.
Leonid Cheshinsky, general director of Russia's Roskhleboproduct in Moscow, offered a picture of the new developments in agriculture and trade as a result of the break-up of the F.S.U. Sun Zhongren, vice-president of China's cereal trading company Ceroilfoods, provided insights into the workings of that group. An early indication of the shape and functions of the new World Trade Organization, established under the GATT accord, was given by Warren A. Lavorel, deputy director general of GATT.
In a change from the pattern of previous conferences, commercial aspects of world grain trade were featured in addition to the political issues. The commercial portion of the program addressed the challenges facing the milling and malting industries, highlighting Indonesia and Brazil.
Speakers for this session included Piet Yap, director and general manager of Bogasari Flour Mills, Jakarta, Indonesia; and Antenor Barros Leal, president of the Association of Brazilian Flour Millers. Others addressing the malting and milling topics were Lawrence DeWitt, president of the dry milling group of Cargill, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.; Bernard Valluis, president of the French Trade Association of Export Millers; and Daniel Huvet, commercial director for Malteurop, Reims, France.