ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Moscow may begin exporting wheat to Iraq after a Russian delegation visited Baghdad to discuss the matter on Thursday.
According to Iraq’s grains board chief, Naeem al-Maksousi, Baghdad will consider Russian wheat exports in its state buying tenders.
“The visit was to discuss the possibility of importing Russian wheat as per the regulations adopted by the board and to discuss organizing the contract,” Maksousi said in a statement.
In the meantime, the Iraqi government is expected to send a team to Russia to study the quality and sustainability of the wheat which Baghdad plans to use in its food rationing program before the start of 2019, Reuters reported.
Iraq imports wheat to supply a rationing program created in 1991 to combat United Nations economic sanctions, including flour, cooking oil, rice, sugar, and baby milk formula.
The country’s Trade Ministry is responsible for obtaining strategic commodities, including wheat, for the program.
Iraq’s Trade Minister Mohammed Hashim, meanwhile, said the country has signed an agreement with the United States for the import of US wheat and rice.
“The agreement signals a wider cooperation with the American companies to supply Iraq with wheat and rice for 2019. The cabinet has approved it,” Hashim, accompanied by US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman, told reporters in Baghdad on Thursday.
Iraq requires a wheat supply of 4.5 to five million tons per year and has an import gap of around two million tons a year.
Baghdad buys domestic wheat from farmers every year which they categorize into three grades according to quality and then use to facilitate the country’s rationing scheme.
The trade minister noted that Baghdad signed the deal with Washington because “Iraq favors the high quality of the US rice and wheat.”
Editing by John J. Catherine