Sarkozy Urges Group of 20 to Regulate Commodities


"Inaction may cause rioting in the world's poorest countries."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said regulation of commodity markets will be a priority as he leads the Group of 20 nations this year, and inaction may cause food rioting in the world's poorest countries.

Some commodity markets lack safeguards to limit price spikes and "price manipulation," Sarkozy said at a press briefing in Paris today. France's head of state said he asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to help study the role of derivatives in commodity-price swings.

Global food security may face a threat from "excessive price volatility and speculation," farm ministers from 48 countries said in a joint statement in Berlin on Jan. 22. World food prices rose to a record in December, according to the United Nations, and a jump in food costs helped spark deadly riots in Algeria and Tunisia this month.

Information on physical-commodity stockpiles must be improved, said Sarkozy, who proposed creating a shared database similar to one that exists for oil. When Russia last year banned grain exports after a crop-damaging drought, "there wasn't a single calculation on the exact state of stocks," he said.

One of the rules France proposes is for commodity investors to set aside a deposit equal to part of the value of the raw material being traded, according to the president.

"Does it make sense that you can buy considerable stocks of commodities without running any risk, without blocking any sum, without committing to any cargo delivery?" Sarkozy said.

France favors the existence of markets for agricultural- commodity derivatives because they allow for risk coverage, according to Sarkozy. Commodity markets expanded globally before worldwide regulations were put into place, he said.

"We have to catch up," Sarkozy said. "It's not about killing these derivative markets, it's about regulating them."

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