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Sarkozy renews calls for FTT, signals ambitious G20 agenda on food price volatility

Sarkozy renews calls for FTT, signals ambitious G20 agenda on food price volatility

January 24, 2011

International prices of wheat, corn and other food products have increased over the last six months, while food stocks are decreasing, putting millions of people’s lives and livelihoods are at risk.

“We are not experiencing a major crisis on the scale of 2007-2008 yet. But there are serious reasons to be alarmed and millions of people’s lives and livelihoods are at risk across the developing world," said Oxfam Canada policy coordinator Mark Fried. "It is essential the G20 attack the root cause of hunger by investing in smallholder agriculture production — particularly amongst women farmers — in developing countries."

Oxfam is calling for action in 3 key areas:

*Governments must act to calm the markets, including a rapid increase in investment to support small scale agricultural production in highly vulnerable countries in the next few months. Financial pledges ($22 billion) made in 2009 by the countries of the G8 at the L’Aquila Summit to invest in the agriculture of the countries of the South have yet to be delivered.

*Governments must help women and men living in poverty cope with the immediate effects of high and volatile prices including the rapid provision of finance by the international community to help highly vulnerable countries deal with the immediate impacts of a food price crisis and long-term, predictable aid flows to help developing country governments provide long-term safety nets.

*Governments must address the root causes of food price crisis including allowing developing countries the space to adopt policies which promote national food production. G8 governments must  increase investment in small-scale, sustainable agriculture; and ensure the climate fund meets the adaptation needs of small-scale producers, particularly amongst women producers, who are often marginalized and under-represented in agricultural cooperatives.

Responding to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call for the G20 to agree on a tax on financial transactions to raise funds for international development, Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International Executive Director, said:

"President Sarkozy’s comments offer a real opportunity for the G20 put the interests of the poor ahead of those of big banks and make a Robin Hood Tax a reality. The G20’s president and the IMF are both pushing for the financial sector to pay more so finance ministers meeting next month now have no excuse for inaction."

Calls for a Financial Transaction Tax, which would levy a 0.05 per cent tax against all speculative trades, were ignored when Canada hosted the G20 meeting in Toronto in 2010.

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