Iran says lifting sanctions could cut wheat import cost by 30 pct

(Adds quotes, details)

* Iran looking to barter excess durum for milling wheat

* Lifted ban on rice imports, launched a new rice tender

* Iran's GTC to looking to launch new tenders in a month

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

DUBAI, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Iran's state grain buying agency, the Government Trading Corporation (GTC), said on Tuesday lifting sanctions would help bring the cost of imported wheat down by as much as 30 percent.

In an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the 26th Annual IAOM Mideast and Africa Conference in Dubai, deputy agriculture minister Ali Ghanbari said the fall in cost would largely be due to the lifting of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL Group).

Last month, Iran began scaling back its nuclear programme under the terms of a deal with world powers that will see international sanctions on Tehran lifted, probably in early or mid-2016.

"We are hoping that by the lifting of sanctions, especially on IRISL, the costs would fall by 20 to 30 percent," Ghanbari, who is also the chairman and CEO of GTC, said.

Ghanbari also confirmed Iran was looking to barter some of its durum wheat for imported milling wheat due to excess output.

"We produce 600,000 tonnes each year and only consume half of that, we are happy to sell or barter the other half. This is Iranian-produced durum," he said.

Traders had said on Oct. 5 Iran was looking to barter some 200,000 tonnes of Iranian-produced new crop durum wheat for at least 250,000 tonnes of imported milling wheat.

Apart from the durum barter tender, the ban on rice imports was also lifted on Oct. 23 and the GTC has launched an international tender to purchase rice.

"During production season we banned the import of rice ... now the harvest has finished and the ban has been automatically lifted," Ghanbari said. He did not give details concerning the rice tender.

GTC is looking to launch new international tenders to purchase more grains.

"We are hopeful that we will launch a new tender in a month," he said.

Ghanbari had earlier told a panel at the conference that Iran had bought more than 8 million tonnes of wheat from its farmers this year, a 1.3 million tonne increase over the previous year.

But despite the high local procurement figure, he said his agency would take any necessary steps to keep strategic reserves at a secure level including imports.

Iran said in August it would not need to import any wheat this year due to local buying.

(Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and David Evans)