Thailand sold about 40,000 tonnes of rice to Iran in an international tender this week, a deal which sees Iran’s purchasing returning to normalcy since the lifting of sanctions. Thailand has secured a deal to sell rice to Iran for the first time in 10 years, with delivery of 50,000-100,000 tons of white rice due over the next couple of months. About 300,000 tonnes in shipments would be made in total, they said. Traders said Iran in past years largely purchased rice through lengthy direct negotiations as western sanctions imposed over the country’s disputed nuclear programme had curtailed international payments via banks. The Iranian state grains buyer GTC bought Hom Mali grade A rice from Thailand at about €600 (US$645) a tonne from a US multinational trading house. Prices had been sought in euros in the tender that closed on March 14. The rice was for shipment between April 15 and May 15 to Bandar Imam Khomeini or Bandar Abbas ports.
In the past, Iran used to import 700,000 to 1 million tons from foreign countries, about 300,000-500,000 tons of which came from Thailand. With the easing situation in Iran, Thailand and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding in early 2016 to resume sales of 300,000 tons of rice worth 4.3 billion baht ($120 million). Thailand and Iran agreed in October last year to a preferential trade agreement, a move intended to boost bilateral trade to 104.7 billion baht ($3 billion) by 2021. Both sides have agreed to cut import tariffs on 100 goods. Iran is Thailand’s ninth largest trading partner in the Middle East. In 2016, two-way trade totaled $421 million, up 36.1% from a year before. Exports from Thailand reached $267 million, up 23.1% from 2015.