USA Rice orchestrated a coordinated effort with U.S. State Department and Embassy officials in Baghdad to ensure the extension of the U.S.-Iraq Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for rice that was set to expire last week. It has now been confirmed that the MOU has been extended by the government of Iraq until January 2018. The extension means exporters of U.S.-grown rice will have additional opportunities to make sales to Iraq through January of next year.
The original MOU was signed almost a year ago after more than a year of pressure from USA Rice and officials within the U.S. government, however, the agreement must be renewed every six months.
“Once again we owe a debt of gratitude to U.S. State Department officials, who worked tirelessly to encourage the Iraq Ministry of Trade to agree to a further extension,” said Betsy Ward, USA Rice President & CEO. “The concept of the MOU originated here, but there’s simply no way it would have been executed and now extended without the Embassy staff and others.”
The MOU for rice grew out of a desire for Iraq to develop a growing economy that contributes to food security through the provision of high-quality and competitively priced rice from reliable and consistent suppliers. At the same time the MOU is intended to strengthen commercial ties between the United States and Iraq, while providing a degree of certainty and consistency that helps facilitate additional rice exports by qualified U.S. private-sector companies.
The extension comes on the heels of a 30,000 MT sale of U.S. rice just last month – the first successful sale under the MOU. Trade sources indicate that Iraq may soon issue a new tender invitation under the newly-extended MOU.
Ward said USA Rice is also working with the State Department to arrange a high-level Iraqi delegation visit to the United States, led by the Iraqi Trade Minister himself. It’s been three years since members of the Iraq Grain Board, the purchasing and advisory board within the Trade Ministry, traveled to rice country with USA Rice. At that time the delegation toured farms in Arkansas, mills in Mississippi, and shipping and grading facilities in Louisiana.