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Iraq will buy 100,000 tonnes of rice from India and is keen to increase import of wheat, sugar and other agricultural products in a bid to diversify the trade basket, Iraq's Trade Minister Kheer Allah Hassan Babkr said Tuesday.
"We are buying 100,000 tonnes of rice from India. Within a few weeks, the shipment will reach Iraq," Babkr told reporters here on the sidelines of a business meeting.
"Our annual requirement of rice is 1.2 million tonnes. We produce only 200,000 tonnes, the rest has to be imported. We mainly import rice from countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Brazil. Now we are trying to depend on Indian rice," said Babkr, who is part of a business delegation accompanying Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch N. Shaways currently on a visit to India.
Babkr said Iraq was also keen to import wheat, sugar and edible oil from India.
India-Iraq two-way trade almost doubled in the last five years. Bilateral trade between the two countries rose to USD 9.7 billion in 2010-11 as compared to USD 5.7 billion in 2006-07.
Trade balance is heavily in favour of Iraq. Out of the USD 9.7 billion trade recorded in 2010-11, India's export to Iraq was just USD 738.65 million. India is the biggest importer of crude oil from Iraq.
Earlier, addressing a business meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi, Iraq's deputy prime minister urged Indian entrepreneurs to play an active role in rebuilding of the war-ravaged country.
"We look forward to seeing you enter the world of business and investment in Iraq and be part of our rebuilding and construction campaigns," Shaways said.
He said Iraq would welcome Indian investments in all sectors.
Shaways requested Indian business leaders to visit and explore business opportunities in Iraq.
"We hope that through your visit we will strengthen economic and commercial ties in all sectors and will look forward to build up our contacts and cooperation with reputable and experienced Indian firms and businesses."