Iraq to fill rice supply gap with U.S. agreement -Trade Ministry

BAGHDAD, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Iraq's trade ministry will buy rice under an agreement with the United States to supply its rationing programme, it said on Saturday, and it will strike deals next week with local companies for sugar and vegetable oils.

The existing agreement has seen Iraq in recent years invite companies to present offers for U.S. origin only rice.

The country needs around 1-1.25 million tonnes of rice a year to support the programme. In May, the ministry said Iraq had only 190,000 tonnes of rice available in its coffers and renewed pleas for a greater allocation of funds from the state budget.

Iraq's food rationing programme, created in 1991 to combat U.N. economic sanctions, covers flour and rice as well as cooking oil and sugar. (Reporting by Moayad Kenany; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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