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France Sees Wide Support To Regulate Food Markets

France said Oct. 14 its proposals for tighter controls on commodity trading were being well received in many G20 countries, and it issued a joint statement with Brazil on measures to curb food price volatility.

France, which takes over the presidency of the Group of 20 most important economies in November, has made fighting speculation on commodities markets one of its priorities.

Its proposals have aready been backed by Germany, and on Oct. 14 Brazil and Italy threw their weight behind Paris.

In a joint statement, Brazil and France called for the setting up of global and regional stocks, greater regulation of derivatives on agricultural markets, and the creation of financial mechanisms – including price guarantees – to protect farmers from excessive price fluctuations.

Earlier, Bruno Le Maire, minister of agriculture for France, said he had discussed the issue during recent trips to China, the United States and India.

He said he would soon visit Moscow and London, which as Europe’s financial centre and its hub for trading commodities traditionally opposes plans for more market regulation.

“I really have the feeling, after making contact with many of our G20 partners, that these proposals are received favourably,” Le Maire told a press conference in Rome after meeting his Italian counterpart, Giancarlo Galan.

Le Maire said it was “not normal” that the United States, thanks to recent legislation, now had more regulated agricultural markets than Europe.

France’s proposals call for increased co-ordination among G20 states so that countries faced with an agricultural crisis – as was the case of drought-hit Russia recently – do not act unilaterally.

They also include greater transparency of global and regional stocks and the use of the same statistical tools in all G20 countries.

A third plank aims for more organized agricultural markets, with tighter regulation of over-the-counter derivatives and greater knowledge of the different players involved, Le Maire said.

He said he had also discussed his proposals at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, where a high-level five-day intergovernmental meeting of the Committee on Food Security is underway.

He said Paris viewed food security as “a strategic issue as important as financial speculation, nuclear proliferation and economic growth.”

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