Aug 17, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – Last Friday, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) unanimously approved a $450 million loan to assist Iraq in the purchase of U.S. goods and services, including rice and other agricultural products. This agreement follows a $5 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the government of Iraq and the EXIM in October 2019 to identify potential projects in Iraq that fit the procurement criteria.
EXIM President and Chair Kimberly Reed explained that unanimous approval of the loan, “underscores EXIM’s commitment to strengthening and expanding our relationship with Iraq while supporting U.S. jobs – including in American agriculture – here at home. This potential transaction also is particularly important as we address COVID-19 challenges in both of our countries.”
With a robust new crop currently being harvested across the mid-south, last week’s development is good news for the U.S. rice industry. Iraq has traditionally been a strong market for milled U.S. long grain rice but due to a number of factors, including COVID-19, there have not yet been any purchases in 2020.
“Over the past several years, Iraq has been an important destination for U.S. rice, averaging over 100,000 MT per year,” said USA Rice Chair Bobby Hanks, who is also chair of the USA Rice International Trade Committee. “With exports down significantly in 2020, the rice industry welcomes the news of the EXIM loan and looks forward to reestablishing trade with Iraq.”
The announcement of the loan coincides with an Iraqi delegation visit to Washington, DC, this week that includes the country’s prime minister and deputy trade minister who are scheduled to meet with members of the Trump Administration. The two sides are expected to discuss bilateral cooperation in areas of common interest, including security, energy, and trade.