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[casi] U.S. G.M. Wheat for Iraq?




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Jordan Times 12th September 2003
Iraq to buy part of its wheat needs from US

 
 
BAGHDAD (Reuters)  Iraq will buy part of its wheat needs for 2004 from the
United States while continuing to import the staple commodity from
Australia, a senior Iraqi trade ministry official said on Thursday.
"For sure, some of our wheat imports will be from the United States,"
Fakhruddin Rashan, the US-appointed executive director of the trade ministry
told Reuters.
"American firms have started contacting the ministry and expressed readiness
to supply wheat, other cereals and foodstuffs," he added.
Iraq's wheat harvest and import requirement were kept secret during Saddam
Hussein's rule that was ousted by the US-led coalition forces five months
ago.
Rashan did not say, however, how much wheat Iraq would import from the
United States.
In the past decade Iraq had been importing about three million tonnes of
wheat a year, two-thirds of it from Australia.
Rashan said Iraq would continue wheat imports from Australia, worth about
$490 million a year, under a now suspended United Nations oil-for-food
programme.
"We have contracts with the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) and our dealing
with the board would continue because the AWB is a traditional supplier and
the Australian wheat is of good quality," Rashan said.
The US wheat industry is hoping to return to this lucrative market after
several years of being shut out by Saddam.
Iraq's annual wheat harvest is estimated at around two million tonnes.
Baghdad in the late 1980s became the largest export market for American
rice. Feed grains, oilseeds, cotton, sugar, dairy products, poultry and
tobacco sales were also brisk.
All these trade dealings were stopped when the United Nations imposed
sanctions on Iraq in 1990 for its invasion of Kuwait.
UN sanctions on Iraq were lifted in May this year. The sanctions banned Iraq
from trading freely with the rest of the world, but under an oil-for-food
deal the UN allowed Iraq to sell oil to buy food, medicine and humanitarian
essentials.
Friday-Saturday, September 12-13, 2003
 


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