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Ryan W. Lijdsman is an international business consultant and freelance writer who has been working with various companies and governments in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
While BHP Billiton failed in its attempt to take over Potash Corp., it is succeeding in transforming the Canadian potash industry from supply management to free market. BHP and other new entrants are opening new potash mines that will sell directly to buyers, bypassing Canpotex. Over the long term, this transformation will be positive for both the industry and the governments that receive royalties, but in the short term the proposed supply increases are far greater than current demand, leading to market volatility as the forces of supply and demand clash.
Canadian potash has traditionally been exported through Canpotex, a producer-owned export cartel made up of Potash Corp., Mosaic and Agrium. Canpotex manages the price and volume of exports and with the other large global exporter Belarusian Potash Co. – a consortium that controls the exports of Belarusian and Russian potash – controls 70% of the export market.
The supply management that Canpotex provided producers has benefited the industry by providing stability when supply was greater than demand.