Iran Sets Sight on Iraq’s Flour Market via Russia Wheat Deal

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran is in talks with Russia over a wheat import deal that would allow it to increase flour exports to neighboring Iraq, an Iranian official said.

Talks were ongoing and the deal is expected to be finalized in a couple of months, Kaveh Zargaran, the secretary general of the Iran Federation of Food Industry Associations, told Reuters on Saturday.

“Last week we were in Moscow to negotiate about it and after we are done we will start in a few months,” he said.

“We have a little financial problem to resolve but after it we will be able to go through with the deal,” Zargaran said without elaborating.

The deal would involve importing around 100,000 tons of Russian wheat per month for private millers who would then produce flour for export.

The Eurasian Economic Commission, an organization for a free customs zone which Russia shares with its neighbors, is leading the negotiations, a member of the talks later confirmed.

Arkady Zlockevsky, head of Russia’s Grain Union, a non-state farmers’ lobby group, said the talks were part of broader negotiations about a free trade zone between Iran and Russia. Russian private firms are considering wheat supplies to Iran as part of the talks, he said.

“Russia is ready to start supplies in the nearest days. The question is on the Iranian side and how quickly their firms will manage to adapt to the processing regime, because Iran was not buying our wheat since March 2016," Zlockevsky, who is taking part in the talks, said.

Iranian private millers are not allowed to use domestic wheat for flour exports.

Russia, among the world’s largest wheat exporters, has ample supplies waiting for the deal. “They are negotiating with the Iranian private sector,” Zargaran said.

Iraq’s flour imports are currently dominated by Turkish supplies.