ABU DHABI: A Syrian state agency reissued two tenders Monday, seeking quantities of rice and sugar it has repeatedly tried and failed to obtain since June. The General Foreign Trade Organization said it was seeking to buy 276,000 tons of white sugar and 135,000 tons of short-grain rice in separate tenders citing extreme urgency.
The deadline for sugar offers is Nov. 27, while that for rice is Nov. 26, according to tender documents.
“These are the same tenders that we have announced before, the only thing that is different are the dates but the conditions remain the same,” a GFTO official told Reuters.
“No purchases were made in the previous ones,” he said.
This is the fourth time Syria is asking for the same amount of sugar and rice with the same conditions.
Traders have said Syria should relax its tender terms in light of the risk involved in doing business with a country embroiled in civil war, particularly the requirement to place a one million euro ($1.4 million) bid bond.
A bid bond is a form of guarantee that tender participants must give to ensure they will deliver under the terms of their offer.
Both tenders state payment can be arranged using Syrian funds frozen abroad. Traders have said they were uncertain whether they would become liable to pay the bid bond if there were problems with arranging finance from funds in the frozen bank accounts.
Despite Syria’s struggle recently to buy food through government tenders seeking rice, sugar, flour and wheat, some deals struck through middlemen outside the tender process have been successful in securing food.
The Syrian state grain agency Hoboob said earlier this month it concluded a deal to import 500,000 tons of wheat, of which around 150,000 tons had arrived in Syria.
The wheat deliveries are a signal that some bank accounts abroad are being freed up, with grain traders detecting a willingness from European governments to allow deals to go ahead on humanitarian grounds.
The European Union, the United States and other Western countries have imposed sanctions on President Bashar Assad’s government over his crackdown on the revolt in the country.
While sanctions do not target food, a financing freeze has hindered Syria’s ability to import food.