Iraq is planning to resume its rice imports from Thailand after halting purchases for almost a year due to concerns about quality, according to the Thai Trade Ministry.

Speaking after his Iraq visit, head of the ministry’s Foreign Trade Department Surasak Riangkrul confirmed that the Middle Eastern country pledged to resume importing Thai rice.

This move is likely to increase Thailand’s rice exports this year, he added.

Iraq is one of the world’s largest importers of rice and wheat, mainly to serve its national food programme.

It purchased 845,000 tonnes of rice from Thailand in 2012, but stopped in the second half of last year due to quality concerns.

Despite the halt, Thai exporters still managed to ship more than 700,000 tonnes to Iraq in 2013.

Thailand is negotiating to reach inter-governmental agreements to sell 600,000 tonnes of rice to China and Malaysia. Meanwhile, the US is also considering the purchase of 1 million tonnes from Thailand, said Surasak.

As of April 4, Thailand exported 2.11 million tonnes of rice for 1.1 billion USD, up 28.7 percent in volume and down 6.6 percent in value year-on-year.-VNA