SINGAPORE  - Pakistan will start shipping wheat to Iran from December under the terms of a 1-million tonne barter deal agreed in August, Muhammad Najib Balagamwalla, chairman of leading Pakistani grain exporter Seatrade Group, said on Tuesday.

Iranian wheat imports are usually handled by the private sector but the state had to step in and help with purchasing this year because of the disruption to trade financing caused by Western sanctions aimed at Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

“There were some quality issues with Iran which were resolved during the visit of the Iranian delegation,” Balagamwalla told reporters at a grains conference in Singapore, with logistics issues and shipping terms also being ironed out. “We expect shipping to start from December onwards,” he said. “By March, we will be able to export 400,000 tonnes.”

The grain would come from government stocks, added Balagamwalla, whose firm also has interests in other commodities and shipping. The barter deal, first proposed in March with Iran exporting fertiliser and iron ore to Pakistan in exchange for wheat, was deadlocked for months over price and quality.

But in August, Pakistan agreed a price of $300 per tonne, an official from the country’s Ministry of National Food Security and Research told Reuters.