G20 farm ministers settled a deal on Thursday to tackle high food prices, agreeing to a watered-down declaration that fell short of France's ambitious proposals to tighten regulation of commodity markets.
"The member states of the G20 concluded an agreement this morning on an action plan on volatility of food prices and global agriculture," French farm minister Bruno Le Maire said after chairing the meeting.
A communique was not immediately available, but a G20 source said it urged finance ministers of the Group of 20 major economies to improve rules and supervision of commodity markets.The deal appeared to lack, however, a commitment for a tough crackdown on speculators that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had campaigned for in the run-up to the summit, the first-ever G20 agriculture meeting.
"We recognise that appropriately regulated and transparent agricultural financial markets are indeed key for well-functioning physical markets," the communique said, according to the source.
"On this basis we strongly encourage G20 finance ministers and central bank governors to take the appropriate decisions for a better regulation and supervision of agricultural financial markets," it added.
France had wanted all G20 countries to commit themselves to imposing position limits —a curb on how much of the market an investor can buy into —but the G20 source said the communique only said reforms could include trading limits.
The action plan includes increasing agricultural output, improving market transparency through a new database and removing export restrictions for food aid, Le Maire said.