WASHINGTON, DC, US — A group of five Republican senators, led by Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas, last week sent a letter to US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller urging assistance to ensure wheat flows freely between the United States and Iraq.
Specifically, the Senators — Marshall, John Boozman of Arkansas, John Cornyn of Texas, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jerry Moran of Kansas — asked Tueller to use the Export-Import Bank to help Iraq purchase US wheat.
“The current wheat situation in Iraq is troublesome,” the Senators wrote in the Aug. 23 letter. “Due to smaller-than-expected harvests, and subsequent lower-than-expected government procurement of local wheat, Iraq will need to import a substantial volume of wheat to continue to operate their primary subsidized feeding program, the Public Distribution System. That situation is made more dire by Iraqi’s current budget challenges and their lengthy tendering and inspection systems — from the time a tender is issued, it takes nearly three months for wheat to arrive in country. That means the Iraqis need to act now, to ensure their PDS has ample wheat available late this fall.
“The good news is that financing assistance and US wheat are readily available to them. The wheat MOU, which your office has been instrumental in establishing has created a tendering process that functions well and receives good US exporter participation. Also, the US EXIM bank nearly a year ago established a $450 million export credit guarantee for wheat and rice sales to Iraq. That financing tool remains available and has yet to be tapped.
“The US is generally the largest exporter of wheat to this market and a natural partner to supply wheat to Iraq in times of need. However, as you are well aware, wheat purchases by Iraq require multiple ministries working in tandem — which is where we are hopeful your outreach to them can be helpful. We are asking for support to help push the wheat tendering process along and for the State Department to offer additional assistance to the Iraqis to access the EXIM tools.”