Iraq’s Ministry of Trade has announced a global tender for 30,000 MT of rice. This tender is outside of the US-Iraq Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and can be filled by any country. Companies have one week to submit bid documents to the Ministry.
“USA Rice has been relentless in pursuit of getting an Iraqi tender since last summer,” said USA Rice Chair Bobby Hanks. “From engaging with the State Department both in Washington, DC and Baghdad, to inviting the Ministry of Trade to a seminar in Dubai last February, to involving Congress on this issue, USA Rice is making sure there are strong export markets for our long grain crop.”
Iraq last purchased 60,000 MT of rice from the U.S. in a July 2019 tender. Iraq typically purchases more than one million tons of rice per year, with about two-thirds of imports coming from India. South America has supplied the market in recent years, though the tight crop prevented exports from there in 2020.
“While the U.S. was hopeful for a tender sooner than 2021, the drop in global oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic placed unprecedented strains on the Iraqi economy,” said Hanks. “Last summer, the Export Import Bank of the United States authorized $450 million of insurance coverage on letters of credit for rice purchases but this can only be utilized when purchasing U.S. rice.”
Rice is a staple and considered essential in the Iraqi diet. Per capita consumption is more than 90 pounds annually and most Iraqis consume rice daily. Iraq produces about 20 percent of their domestic consumption of rice but relies heavily on imports to feed their population through the Public Distribution System, which provides Iraqi citizens with a monthly allotment of basic food items including rice.