CBH CEO makes history

by Arvin Donley
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For the first time in history, the cooperative sector was represented at the B20 Leadership Group this summer as Andrew Crane, CEO of Australian grain cooperative CBH, was appointed to the coalition, which brings together leading independent business associations from G20 economies.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott invited CBH to join the B20 Leadership Group in November 2013 to bring the perspective of agribusiness and cooperatives. The B20 is a forum where the private sector produces policy recommendations for the annual meeting of G20 leaders, which will meet in November 2014.

The purpose of the B20 is to identify a set of clear, actionable recommendations to drive global economic growth, with four areas of focus:

Bridging the gap in infrastructure investment;
Removing barriers to trade;
Improving allocation of global human capital; and
Completing major financial reforms to support growth.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of a process that has developed clear, actionable recommendations to increase G20 GDP by more than 2% above current trend over the next five years,” Crane said in a recent interview with World Grain. “The four areas have provided clear recommendations for G20 leaders to consider in the areas of trade, infrastructure, investment and employment to list growth and create jobs.”

During the B20 meeting, held July 16-18 in Sydney, Australia, Crane personally sat in on task forces for Infrastructure as well as Investment and Trade.

“Through involvement on both the trade and investment and the infrastructure task forces, we advocated for strong linkage between the two sets of recommendations,” he said.

“This was reinforced by other members and final B20 policy summary ties these two together under the Structural Flexibility goal, which addresses barriers to investment in public infrastructure and supply chain barriers. The B20 has made clear to the G20 representatives that country growth strategies need to consider these together to reach the 2% target.”

Crane also provided input to other task forces with regard to issues for the agriculture sector.

“I was also pleased to be asked to moderate a session on the impact of G20 growth on food security,” Crane said. “This is something both Australia and the cooperative sector can participate in to produce and distribute food in a sustainable way.”

Crane said the B20 process has offered real relevance to agriculture in the areas of trade liberalization and improvements to supply chain infrastructure.

“It has been estimated that there is up to 30% of food lost or wasted in supply chain infrastructure before it gets to the global consumer,” Crane said. “CBH can offer some ideas and insights into how it operates our supply chain for the benefit of Western Australian growers.”

He said the Human Capital taskforce recommended and increased the level of alignment between learning and workforce needs. This has real implications for agriculture, he said, and for the challenges faced in continuing to encourage young people into the industry.

Crane noted that the B20 is addressing some great opportunities to influence the nations that can help CBH, and agriculture more broadly, tackle the challenges faced in an international trade environment.

“For example, by developing country-specific supply chain strategies, B20 findings suggest we could open up an additional A$1.2 trillion in trade and create 42 million jobs globally,” he said. “It’s an exciting thought.”

Importance of cooperatives

Crane advocated a better balanced type of economy where cooperative businesses counterbalance joint-stock companies, thus improving economic diversity and resiliency in times of crisis.

“Cooperatives play an important part in facilitating growth in infrastructure and the broader economy, particularly in banking, insurance, agriculture, irrigation, operating supply chains and generation or distribution of power,” Crane said.

The recommendations made during the B20 meeting highlight a real relevance to cooperatives and mutual in their role in providing funding and running critical infrastructure for community benefit, Crane said.

“If the four trade recommendations were enacted, it’s estimated that 66 million jobs would be created globally, with the potential to offer increased business opportunities in cooperatives and the mutual sector,” Crane said. “One of the infrastructure and investment recommendations is to promote longer-term investment by developing local capital markets. There is potential for $100 billion of GDP growth if this can be achieved by offering better financing instruments that better align risk and return.”

CBH stores, handles and exports, on average, about 10 million tonnes of grain, or up to 40% of the Australia’s annual crop.

Andrew Crane Bio

In 2001, after spending 12 years in the European malting industry, Andrew Crane joined Grain Pool Pty Ltd. and was appointed general manager of that business when it merged with CBH in 2003. He was responsible for the operation of grain accumulation, trading and marketing and growth of the wheat business following the deregulation of Australia’s grain export industry. In 2008, he became general manager, strategy and business development of CBH, and was appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of the cooperative in 2009.

Since joining CBH, Andrew Crane has led the reorganization of the cooperative to ensure that grower members benefit from the dramatic deregulation of their industry. Key initiatives include partnerships and acquisitions along the grain supply chain, their subsequent integration, and improving the efficiency of the broader business. As CEO, he has led a reconfirmation with members of a competitive cooperative business model, the creation of value return measures and delivering and valuing employees through commitment to improving safety and engagement.

He holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Environmental Studies, a doctorate degree in agriculture, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. He is also director of Interflour Holdings Ltd., the chairman of the Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals, a member of the Curtin Business School Advisory Council, and a member of Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Wholesale Food and Agriculture Advisory Board.

What is the G20?

The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product and over 75% of global trade.

The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

This year’s G20 Summit will be held Nov. 15-16 in Brisbane, Australia.

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