AMMAN, JORDAN -- In a continued effort to keep U.S. rice competitive in the Iraqi market, USA Rice members met last week with the Iraqi Trade Minister and his staff to discuss requirements and expectations surrounding that country's public tender process. Iraq imports approximately 1.4 million MT of rice annually and the Iraqi Grain Board purchases nearly all imports via a public tendering process.
The past year has seen both positive trade results, including a recent sale of 60,000 MT of U.S. long grain rice, but also frustration when U.S. tenders fail even while we remain price competitive vis-à-vis other South American origins.
The meeting with the Trade Minister was intended to better understand the tendering process and the rationale for certain requirements contained in the tender documents. In addition to USA Rice members and staff, USDA/FAS Minister Counselor for Iraq Ron Verdonk attended the meeting. USDA and the U.S. Department of State have been extremely engaged and helpful to the U.S. rice industry as we try to gain reliable and consistent access to the Iraqi rice market.
The U.S. team also reiterated a long-standing invitation for the Trade Minister and members of the Grain Board to visit rice country in the United States this summer. The Minister has indicated that he will try to schedule a visit before September and USA Rice will develop an appropriate itinerary to accommodate the Minister's schedule.