BAGHDAD, IRAQ – Iraq’s public tendering system is a mess. The Iraqi Grain Board (IGB) has extended, or “renewed,” tenders on several occasions, most recently with the current tender initially set to close on September 9, but now extended until September 29. The IGB’s contracts committee has not met as scheduled, leading to the current delay.
Adding to the turmoil are unrealistic offers of U.S. origin rice from Indian companies. There were four offers of U.S. rice in the current tender, three of which were from India-based companies that are reportedly not among the first tier of Indian exporters. One of the companies has a history of providing basmati rice to Iraq under public tenders; the other two are either small time exporters or serve as an export front for a miller (typically Indian millers register more than a few companies as exporters and use them specifically where government contracts are involved). Finally, we learned earlier today that a new Trade Minister has reportedly been named.
To say the least, a difficult market to navigate, but navigate it USA Rice will.
“USA Rice remains engaged with the Trade Ministry through several channels, including the U.S. Embassy here, to ensure U.S. origin rice gets fair consideration under the public tendering system,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “If indeed a new minister has been named, we will redouble our efforts to develop meaningful relationships with the Minister as well as members of the Grain Board, which is also likely to see some changes in personnel. Obviously, we can’t control the outcome of this or future tenders, but we will make every effort to keep the spotlight on U.S. rice as a viable option for purchase by Iraq.”