Rising world food prices to dominate G-20 talks

PTI Paris | Updated on February 18, 2011

Issues of spurt in global food prices to “dangerous levels” and fragile economic recovery will figure prominently during the two-day meeting of the G-20 Finance Ministers beginning here tomorrow.

The meeting, which will also be attended by Indian Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee, will deliberate on steps to moderate volatility in energy prices, check tax evasion, disruptive capital flows, reform the International Monetary System (IMS) and work on indicative guidelines for quantifying global imbalances.

Ahead of the G-20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, the World Bank has warned that food prices worldwide are rising to “dangerous levels” and have pushed 44 million people in developing countries into poverty since June last year.

The food price index has climbed 15 per cent between October 2010 and January 2011, the World Bank said, adding that global wheat prices have doubled during the same period.

“Sugar and edible oils have also gone up sharply. Other food items essential for dietary diversity in many countries have increased. This includes vegetables in India and China, and beans in some African countries” it noted.

India, which has been witnessing high food prices, will impress upon the G-20 ministers to work on policy options to improve the functioning of the commodities market.

“Finance Ministers... are expected to exchange views on the recent trends and volatility (of food and energy prices), make an assessment of their possible macroeconomic consequences on growth and inflation, and discuss policy options with a view to improving the functioning of commodities market”, India’s Finance Ministry said in a release yesterday.

France, which is holding the first meeting of the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors under its presidency, said it “would like to find collective solutions to reduce excessive price volatility, particularly of agriculture and energy commodity prices, which undermines world growth and threatens food security.”

It has also been decided to hold a meeting of the G-20 Agriculture Ministers in June to work out solutions for strengthening food security and enhancing agricultural supplies.

With global economic recovery still fragile, uneven and fraught with significant downside risks, India will press for a coordinated response to deal with current problems.

Published on February 17, 2011

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