Iraq studying possibility of Russian wheat imports

Iraq spends billions of dollars annually for food rationing, the Public Distribution System, to supply subsidized bread and other essential foods to its population. (AFP)
Updated 13 November 2018
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Iraq studying possibility of Russian wheat imports

  • Iraq needs an annual wheat supply of between 4.5 million and five million tons
  • The country spends billions of dollars annually on a Saddam-era program for food rationing

BAGHDAD: Iraq, a major Middle East grain importer, said late on Monday it wanted to allow Russian origin wheat imports in its state buying tenders.
Trade Minister Mohammed Hashim Al-Aani said he would send representatives to Russia to study its wheat quality and its suitability for use in Iraq’s massive food rationing program.
“The ministry will send a delegation to Russia to study the mechanisms of wheat production ... in order to paint a picture of its quality and types and how suitable it is for use within the subsidy card system,” he said in a statement.
The minister made the comments after a meeting with the Russian ambassador to Iraq.
Iraq needs an annual wheat supply of between 4.5 million and five million tons, and has an import gap of around two million tons a year.
The country spends billions of dollars annually on a Saddam-era program for food rationing, the Public Distribution System, to supply subsidized bread and other essential foods to its population.
Iraq’s grain board imports its wheat mostly from the US, Australia and Canada. It is one of the few markets in the Middle East, alongside Saudi Arabia, that does not import from Russia, one of the world’s largest grain exporters.
Black Sea sellers have provided stiff competition to the US in North Africa and the Middle East and won market share in recent years.
Iraq’s grain board chief told Reuters in March that Russian wheat quality may not be suitable for the production of flour for the rationing program because of the nature of its gluten content.
However, Al-Aani, who was appointed trade minister in October and oversees the grain board, said Iraq wants Russia to participate in its state tenders.
The grain board regularly announces international purchasing tenders to import wheat for the food rationing program, which covers flour, cooking oil, rice, sugar and baby milk formula and was created in 1991 to combat UN economic sanctions.


Iran falls to sixth biggest oil supplier to India as sanctions bite

Updated 14 December 2018
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Iran falls to sixth biggest oil supplier to India as sanctions bite

  • Tehran dropped two places to become only the sixth biggest supplier after New Delhi cut purchases due to the impact of US sanctions
  • The UAE, which was the sixth biggest oil seller to India in October, became the third-top seller to India in November

NEW DELHI: India’s monthly oil imports from Iran plunged to their lowest in a year in November with Tehran dropping two places to become only the sixth biggest supplier after New Delhi cut purchases due to the impact of US sanctions, according to ship tracking data and industry sources.
Last month, the US introduced tough sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s oil revenue-dependent economy. Washington did, though, give a six-month waiver from sanctions to eight nations, including India, and allowed them to import some Iranian oil.
India is restricted to buying 1.25 million tons per month, or about 300,000 barrels per day (bpd).
In November, India imported about 276,000 bpd of Iranian oil, a decline of about 41 percent from October and about 4 percent more than the year-ago month, ship tracking data obtained from shipping and trade sources showed.
After abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump is trying to force Tehran to quash not only its nuclear ambitions and its ballistic missile program but its support for militant proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.
India’s imports from Iran in November, included some parcels that were loaded in October. In November, Iraq and Saudi Arabia continued to be the top-two oil sellers to India.
The UAE, which was the sixth biggest oil seller to India in October, became the third-top seller to India in November, knocking down Venezuela to fourth position.