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Iran lowers import tariff for semi-milled rice as price soar

Iranian government cuts tariffs on imports of semi-milled rice amid surge in prices in the local market.

The Iranian government has ordered a substantial reduction in tariffs imposed on imports of rice amid price hikes in the local market that came following a decision earlier this month to stop subsidizing rice imports.  

Local media reports on Tuesday said that the Iranian Cabinet had decided to lower tariff on imports of semi-milled rice to 4 percent.

They said the Iranian customs office (IRICA) would continue to maintain a tariff of 10 percent on imports of wholly milled rice.

In early June, Iran lowered tariffs on rice imports from 26 percent to 10 percent after it stopped subsidizing rice imports.

However, the decision pushed the prices up as traders were now forced to obtain foreign currency needed for imports in a secondary exchange market where prices have soared to highs never seen in decades.

That also caused concerns among critics who said rice consumers would foot the bill for changing rules on imports through rising prices in the local market.

Prices of rice, a staple of the Iranian households, have soared in recent weeks as some varieties of the premium-quality rice grown in northern Iran is being sold at a price of 350,000 rials ($1.75) per kilogram.

Iran has mainly imported rice from India, a country where farmers and exporters have been normally content with Iranian tariffs of up to 40 percent.

However, recent changes in tariffs have come with other measures, including tougher checks and controls on quality of rice imported from countries like India while the government has encouraged importers to tap into markets in other rice producing nations.

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