G20 agrees farm deal, but not commodities regulation

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G20 agrees farm deal, but not commodities regulation

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Farm ministers from the G20, the world’s largest economies, have agreed on ways to tackle high food prices at a conference in Paris.

But it was a watered-down declaration, falling short of France’s ambitious proposals to tighten regulation on the buying and selling of agricultural products – that is commodities – to prevent speculators pushing up prices.

Despite that the French farm minister Bruno Le Maire hailed the agreement.

He told euronews: “This is the first step towards a new global approach to agriculture that takes into account everybody’s expectations and which allows for more cooperation .. which will also be more caring and more respectful of the environment and which should enable us to deal with the absolutely huge challenge of hunger in the world and feeding more than nine billion people by 2050.”

Professor Philippe Chalmin of Paris Dauphine University, who advises the French president on food security issues, said there are many factors contributing to the volatility of food prices: “The world we live in, is a world of total instability. This instability is primarily monetary. Agricultural prices are measured in dollars: the dollar is unstable, so what do you stabilise: agricultural prices or the dollar?”

The ministers agreed an action plan including increasing agricultural output, improving market transparency through a new database and removing export restrictions for food aid.

Our reporter at the summit, Antoine Juillard, said: “This G20 gathering is being seen as a success because it is the first meeting to address this problem – agricultural price volatility and its dramatic consequences.

“The participants didn’t agreed on one of the most important points – the regulation of commodities markets – but the G20 Paris agriculture summit has raised awareness of the problem of hunger around the world linked to food prices.”