USA Rice Members to State Department: “Keep Pressure on Middle East”

Feb 15, 2017
Secretary Joseph Pennington
WASHINGTON, DC -- Yesterday, USA Rice members met key Iraq policymakers at the State Department to get an update on the Iraqi rice tendering process under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. and Iraq.  Members reminded officials of the priority the industry places on Iraq as a future market.
The group was hosted by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Joseph Pennington, who provided details on the current political and economic situation in Iraq, and also briefed members on the status of current negotiations, and prospects for moving forward on export sales of U.S. rice.  

The most recent tender was pulled and never filled, but State Department officials are hopeful it will be reissued soon as negotiations are ongoing on price and payment terms.  The last time U.S. rice was sold in Iraq was early 2016 when Iraq purchased 90,000 MT.  

“Iraq is a crucially important market for us,” said USA Rice Chairman Brian King who attended the meeting.  “Our members were able to impress upon Secretary Pennington and his team how important it is to have a fair, open, and transparent tendering system in Iraq so that the U.S. rice industry can compete and be successful in Iraq.  We greatly appreciate the strong support of the State Department in Washington, as well as Ambassador Douglas Silliman in Baghdad, in our continued efforts to press the case with Iraq for a successful tender that leads to sales of U.S. rice.”   

Also participating in the meeting was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran Christopher Backemeyer, who said that while the outlook for Iran was less than optimistic, there appears to be interest in U.S. rice from private traders and that, with future improvements in the political environment, the potential for trade is there.