Sarkozy urges G20 farm database deal
Paris, June 16, 2011
French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged G20 agriculture ministers to agree at talks in Paris next week on a farm database that would gather and store market-sensitive information such as food stocks.
"I would like us to agree on this new database as soon as next week's agriculture ministers meeting," Sarkozy said on Thursday in a speech to farm unions gathered at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development headquarters.
Sarkozy has made stronger regulation of commodities markets, mainly agricultural, a priority of France's year-long presidency of the Group of 20 leading economies.
France has cited as evidence of volatility a surge in grain prices since last year, which has revived memories of soaring food prices in 2007-2008, which sparked rioting in some countries.
Sarkozy said he wanted the database, to be hosted by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), to gather all data on farm supplies, including those that concern public and private stocks, and be accessible to anyone.
Transparency of information, notably on supplies, is among areas where agreement is seen as reachable when G20 agriculture ministers gather for a two-day summit in Paris on June 22-23.
French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said earlier this year the database would gather information on world production, consumption and stocks and could be called JADI for "Joint Agriculture Data Initiative", like the JODI database for oil.
Resistance still exists among members, notably from China, which has expressed reluctance to share information it considers as strategic.
France has also put forward measures targeting derivative markets, but Sarkozy stressed the aim was not to intervene on prices.
"To put back some sense in the economy, make capitalism walk on its two legs, does not imply intervening on prices," he said.
"I would like the commitments that have been made by G20 countries to improve the functioning of derivative markets, in particular oil derivatives, to be extended to agricultural derivatives."
In a speech earlier this week, Sarkozy called on cash deposits to be required for all derivative transactions and for regulators to have the power to impose position limits in a bid to curb speculation.
France notably faces opposition on derivative regulation from the UK, which has rejected the idea of speculation as a primary cause of price volatility. – Reuters