December 14, 2004



Iraq's Demand For Imported Wheat 2.5M MT 2004-05


Wheat production in Iraq will rise sharply this year, but import needs will remain high, at about 2.5 million metric tons, the government's Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics forecast Monday.


The area planted to wheat will expand by about two-thirds to 1.5 million hectares, it said in a brief study on Iraq's wheat market.


This will push production in the year ending June 30, 2005, to 1.8 million tons, well up from an average of 1 million tons a year since the mid-1990s, it said.


Iraq's wheat consumption has averaged about 3 million tons/year over the same period, with imports averaging around 2 million tons/year and Australia the dominant supplier, it said.


Other major suppliers include Canada, European Union nations and the U.S. Smaller suppliers include Pakistan, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine.


Despite the expected record production, wheat imports are forecast to remain high, at around 2.5 million tons in 2004-05, with consumption expected to rise to 3.6 million tons, Abare said.


"Australian exports to Iraq remain strong, with shipments of 0.5 million tons" in the 2004 calendar third quarter, it said.


Abare's study, contained in its quarterly outlook publication, was published a few days after a delegation from the Iraqi grains industry visited Australia's national capital.


The Iraqi delegation was led by the Directors General of the Iraq Wheat Board and Iraq's milling industry, according to Keith Perrett, president of grower lobby Grains Council of Australia, who along with Australian ministers and officials met the Iraqi group.


Perrett said the meeting discussed a proposed A$20 million joint investment between the Australian and Iraqi governments and the Australian grains industry to build a modern flour mill in Iraq.


A feasibility study is complete, and the investment is supported in principal by the government and the grains industry, he said.


"We are now waiting for sign-off on the proposal for it to progress," he said.


The mill will use the latest technology and world's best practice management, combined into a facility that will provide baking and milling training to help raise technical competence in the use of wheat products in Iraq, he said.


The mill will utilize Australian wheat and represents a valuable element in rebuilding the Iraqi economy, he said.


Perrett said the mill represents another link in wheat trade between the two nations that has continued for 56 years.