Iraq Tender Falls Apart at Eleventh Hour

Feb 29, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – USA Rice has learned that the most recent rice tender from the Grain Board of Iraq has been cancelled despite on target and competitive bids from the United States, the extension of bids, and intervention from the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.  

After months of wrangling with the Grain Board and the Ministry of Trade, direct involvement from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and U.S.-sponsored technical seminars as recently as three weeks ago, things appeared to be looking up in this once great market for U.S rice when a U.S. specific tender was announced earlier this month.  

The 90,000 metric ton tender closed on February 21, with results expected to be announced late last week.

As of today, the tender has been cancelled and is being reoffered at 30,000 metric tons and including South America as an origin.  [Click on the video link to hear Carl Brothers, senior vice president and COO of Riceland Foods, explain what’s happening here.]

USA Rice, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, has consistently encouraged Iraq to diversify its origins for rice to reduce the risk of non-delivery and to ensure a reliable and timely supply of rice.

“We certainly don’t expect to get all the business, but with a U.S. origin tender it seems we had a good shot at this one,” Ward said.  “We’re extremely disappointed, and this latest action by the government of Iraq is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of U.S. rice farmers who stand ready to help feed the people of Iraq.  We have a large, high-quality, safe crop, ready to go.  It’s quite frustrating.”

The government of Iraq is experiencing a significant financial crisis with no approved operating budget for the year, however, it is well known that food stocks are running low and the 90,000 ton tender was almost seen as an emergency measure to help with food rations for the Iraqi people.

Riceland COO Carl Brothers on the Iraq tender.

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