Sarkozy lays out G20 agenda

08:37, January 26, 2011      

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his plans for his time at the helm of the G20, saying that the world's richest nations needed to roll out new measures to curb volatility in commodity markets, or risk destabilizing food riots.

Speaking to some 300 diplomats and journalists in the Elysée presidential palace, Sarkozy also voiced support for a tax on financial transactions, calling such a move a "moral question" but admitting the idea had a lot of opposition.

"We want regulation of primary commodity financial markets," said Sarkozy, who holds the rotating 2011 presidency of the Group of 20, a grouping of the world's leading rich and developing economies.

"How can you explain that we regulate money markets and not commodities? If we don't do anything, we run the risk of food riots in the poorest countries and a very unfavorable effect on global economic growth," he said. "The day there are food riots, what country at the G20 table will say this does not concern them?"

Sarkozy has a three-pronged agenda for France's G20 presidency, including tackling volatility in commodity prices, exploring changes to the world monetary system and reforming global economic governance.

In recent weeks, he has met with fellow G20 leaders, including Barack Obama and Hu Jintao, to win support for his plan and set out realistic achievements for France's presidency.

Sarkozy appears to have garnered little support for his idea to establish a new Bretton Woods system, the monetary order set up after World War II that relies heavily on the US dollar.

"We want to reassure our American friends that the dollar will remain a preeminent currency. But a preeminent currency does not mean the sole currency. We have the right to reflect on other approaches," Sarkozy said.

His suggestions for creating a permanent institutional framework for the G20, parallel to the IMF and World Bank, have also failed to gain traction, shifting the focus of his G20 presidency to commodities - a theme that is also seen as a potential vote winner in next year's French presidential election.

Source: Global Times/Agencies
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