Iraq Purchases 120,000 MT of U.S. Rice Under New Tender

Black and white vintage photo of newsboy standing on street corner hawking papers with text "Good News! Iraq Makes Major Rice Purchase!"
Finally, some good news
May 29, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – Iraq’s Ministry of Trade has purchased 120,000 MT of U.S. rice that is four times the amount they had originally intended to purchase.

A tender for 30,000 MT issued earlier this month had what many felt was an unrealistic timeline and did not rely on the Memorandum of Understanding for Rice (MOU) that the U.S. and Iraq agreed to in 2016.  More than 20 Members of Congress immediately weighed in on the situation and their quick action certainly contributed to the resounding success of this tender.

Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and the co-chairs of the House Rice Caucus, Congressmen Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rick Crawford (R-AR), led the effort to send letters to Joey Hood, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires for Iraq and Ambassador Fareed Yasseen, Iraq’s ambassador in the U.S., urging them to work together to facilitate a positive outcome for the tender for both the people of Iraq and the U.S. rice industry.

After cancelling the earlier tender, Iraq’s Ministry of Trade indicated a new tender would be reissued that better reflected the flexibility and transparency outlined by the MOU.

“Given the ongoing uncertainty with trade, this is a shot in the arm to the U.S. rice industry and will keep us busy through September,” said Bobby Hanks, a Louisiana rice miller and chairman of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee.  “I would like to thank the Members of Congress who supported the U.S. rice industry, and Ambassador Yasseen and Chargé d’Affaires Joey Hood for their assistance in a successful tender.”

Iraq consumes nearly 1.4 million tons of rice annually and nearly all of that is imported; the majority of rice imports enter into Iraq’s public distribution system (PDS) that provides food rations to Iraq’s population.  

This brings the total of U.S. rice purchased by Iraq over the past year to 240,000 MT, once again establishing Iraq as a major customer of U.S. rice and the government of Iraq as a valued partner with the U.S. industry and the U.S. government.

The complete list of legislators who signed onto the letters include Senators Boozman and Cotton of Arkansas, Cassidy and Kennedy of Louisiana, Wicker and Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Blunt and Hawley of Missouri, and Cornyn and Cruz of Texas.  House Members who signed on include Representatives Crawford and Westerman of Arkansas; Thompson, Guest, Kelly, and Palazzo of Mississippi; Abraham and Higgins of Louisiana; Babin and Cloud of Texas; LaMalfa of California; and Bost of Illinois.