France leads calls for action on commodities

City A.M. Reporter
Russia and France, the current holder of the presidency of the Group of 20 nations, have called for coordinated international action to curb volatility on global commodities markets.

"Sharp fluctuations in raw materials prices destabilise markets and require coordinated measures to be taken at an international level," the Russian Finance Ministry said after its head, Alexei Kudrin, met France's Christine Lagarde.

"Excessively high prices for food will also contribute to a further fall in living standards in the poorest countries," the ministry added in a statement.

The statement came after Lagarde and Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire visited Moscow to launch a French G20 initiative to set up a working group on commodities markets in which Russia would take a coordinating role.

Le Maire said that he and his Russian counterpart, Yelena Skrynnik, would co-chair the group that would prepare the ground for a meeting of G20 farm ministers in June.

Key action points would be to improve the transparency in the reporting of stocks of agricultural commodities, improving G20 cooperation to avert possible food crises, reviewing export restrictions and market oversight.

"By June, we want to agree with the Russians on all four points ... so that it is not just simply a document coming from the French presidency but a genuine proposal from France and Russia on commodities markets," Le Maire said.