G20 to tackle soaring food prices

By Reuters
Posted Jan. 7 at 6:11 a.m.

The Group of 20 leading economies will discuss ways to tackle soaring food prices that are stoking fears of a repeat of the 2008 food crisis, as some Asian countries sought to reassure nervous consumers on Friday.

Global food prices hit a record high last month, outstripping the levels that sparked riots in several countries in 2008, and key grains could rise yet further, the United Nations’ food agency said this week.

Policymakers’ major concern is that if unchecked, rising food prices will lead to social and economic instability by stoking inflation, protectionism and unrest.

Importantly, rising food prices could set back the recovery from the financial crisis by cutting into consumers’ budgets in fast-growing emerging economies that are leading the global revival.

Working-group talks in the G20 are underway, aimed at improving global cooperation to resolve food security problems ahead of a summit in Paris later this year, said Rhee Chang-yong, who represents South Korea at the G20.

“France is emphasising food security. As a former host country of G20, we would like to deal with the price volatility problem thoroughly,” Rhee said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked the World Bank to conduct urgent research on the impact of food prices ahead of G20 meetings later this year, a source familiar with the matter said.

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