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Iraq issues wheat tender, seeking 50,000 tons from US, Canada, or Australia

2019-02-24

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SULAIMANI — Iraq's trade ministry is seeking at least 50,000 tons of wheat in an international purchasing tender, a ministry source said on Sunday (February 24).

The deadline for offers is March 4 and they should remain valid until March 10, the source said.

The official added that the most likely sources are the United States, Australia, and Canada, as those are currently the only approved countries of origin for imports.

On February 20, the Iraqi trade minister Mohammed Hashim al-Aani said that Iraq does not yet consider Russian wheat to be acceptable for imports, citing quality issues.

Iraq is one of the few remaining Middle East markets not dominated by Russian and Black Sea wheat, though it sent a delegation to Russia in December to discuss the possibility.

He added that Russian wheat imports would be approved if specifications improved, particularly if its prices are more attractive than rival origins.

This past summer, Iraq purchased of US wheat at $334 per ton and Canadian wheat at $324 per ton.

Russian wheat doesn’t contain enough gluten to satisfy Iraqi importers, but is about $10 to $12 per tonne cheaper than US hard red winter wheat shipped to the Middle East, said a US wheat trader.

Iraq needs between 4.5 million to 5 million tons of wheat a year and imports about 2 million tons.

Aani also confirmed that Iraq had purchased 120,000 tonnes of rice of Vietnamese origin outside the international tender process and hinted at the newly announced wheat tender.

Traders had told Reuters on Tuesday that the purchase was made through a direct contract with Vietnamese trading house Vinafood1.

Strategic reserves of wheat are enough for three months and rice for two months, Aani said.

"We are on top of things when it comes to reserves."

Much of the agricultural infrastructure of the country's breadbasket in the northwest was destroyed, damaged, or looted during the war against Islamic State.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)