Sales of 80,000 tons of U.S. rice to Iraq have just been announced by ADM (subject to letter of credit approval), and an additional 40,000 tons was sold by Supreme Rice, also pending letter of credit approval. They are the first sales to Iraq in two years, arriving at the Umm Qasr port in October and November.
Earlier this month, USA Rice signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Iraq’s new purchasing entity, Al Awees, to provide certainty to a top U.S. rice export market.
“This MOU, which builds upon the initial MOU between the U.S. and Iraqi governments, calls for purchases of 200,000 tons of U.S. rice annually,” said Bobby Hanks, USA Rice Chair. “It took a bit of time for us all to understand this new system in Iraq, but now we are well positioned to provide Iraq with high quality U.S. rice, which Iraqi citizens appreciate.”
Preceding this new MOU, seven Senators and twelve Congressmen wrote to the U.S Ambassador in Iraq, Matthew Tueller, requesting urgent attention to the recent changes in procurement and highlighting the importance of the Iraqi market to many of their constituents. Ambassador Tueller swiftly conveyed these concerns directly with Iraq Prime Minister Kadhimi and Minister of Trade Al-Jabouri.
“We greatly appreciate Ambassador Tueller’s efforts and would also like to especially thank Senator John Boozman and Congressmen Rick Crawford, Bennie Thompson, and Clay Higgins for leading efforts to find a workable solution for U.S. rice farmers and the industry,” continued Hanks. “I’d also like to thank my own representatives, including Senators Cassidy and Kennedy, for their efforts here in helping Louisiana farmers.”
Iraq has been a top market for U.S. rice for decades, providing up to 150,000 metric tons in recent years. For the past two years, Iraq has not imported any U.S rice amid drastic revenue shortages, given that crude oil exports account for 90% of Iraq’s revenue and the low prices of oil in 2020.