New International Grains Council holds first meeting in London

by Teresa Acklin
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   The International Grains Council, successor to the International Wheat Council, recently held its first session in London, at which it elected officers and committees for 1995-96.

   Rolf Mohler, deputy director-general for agriculture of the European Commission, Brussels, was elected chairman of the council and of the executive committee. J. Achermann, vice-director, Federal Office for Agriculture, Bern, Switzerland, was elected vice-chairman of the council and executive committee.

   Countries elected to the executive committee were Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, European Union, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Morocco, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States.

   The I.G.C. recently confirmed Germain Denis, a Canadian trade negotiator, as its new executive director.

   Just before the I.G.C. meeting, a Conference of Governments in London established the International Grains Agreement 1995, which replaced the expiring International Wheat Agreement 1986. The purpose of the I.G.A. is to promote “international cooperation in grain trade and food aid for at least another three years,” according to the Council.

   The new grains agreement comprises the 1995 Grains Trade Convention and Food Aid Convention. The Council said the G.T.C. was designed “to further grain market stability and world food security.”

   Initial membership of the G.T.C. includes Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Egypt, European Union, Hungary, India, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mauritius, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United States and Vatican City.

    According to the Council, the purpose of the F.A.C. is “to secure a guaranteed annual supply of grains suitable for human consumption for the benefit of developing countries.”

   Initial membership in the F.A.C. and the respective minimum annual contributions in tonnes of wheat equivalent for each are Argentina (35,000), Australia (300,000), Canada (400,000), the European Union and its member states (1,755,000), Japan (300,000), Norway (20,000), Switzerland (40,000) and the United States (2,500,000).

   “It is expected that many donors will be able to ship more than the specified minima, and the objective — to supply 10 million tonnes of food aid to developing countries, through a joint effort by the international community — remains unchanged,” the Council said.

   The International Wheat Council's name was changed to emphasize that the G.T.C. covered all grains, not wheat alone. In past years, the Wheat Council included data on coarse grains, as well as wheat, in its statistical compilations. Periodic analyses of market conditions also have included reviews of coarse grains.