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G8 pledges $20 bn for food security to poor nations
* Resolves to resist trade protectionism
* Focus on oil market speculation

Wives of G8 and G5 leaders pose with a red cup, the symbol of the World Food Programme’s “Fill the Cup” project as they attend the “Saving Lives: Women on the Front Lines” event at the WFP headquarters in Rome on Friday.
Wives of G8 and G5 leaders pose with a red cup, the symbol of the World Food Programme’s “Fill the Cup” project as they attend the “Saving Lives: Women on the Front Lines” event at the WFP headquarters in Rome on Friday. — Reuters photo

L'Aquila, Italy, July 10
After dealing with issues of climate change, trade and global economic downturn, the G8 and G5 countries Friday turned their attention to food security pledging to mobilise US $20 billion over three years by substantially increasing aid to agriculture for achieving food security across the nations.

Leaders of the world including those from powerful industrialised countries like US President Barack Obama and those of the emerging economies like Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also agreed at the summit here that markets must remain open and rejected protectionism and factors that potentially affect commodity price volatility, including speculation.

The leaders also committed themselves to reducing trade distortions and refrain from raising new barriers to trade and investment and to implement WTO-consistent measures to stimulate exports.

To this end, the ‘L'Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security and Regional Organisations’ said the nations would aim at an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced conclusion of the Doha Development Round and called for renewed and determined to bring it to a timely and successful conclusion.

TRADE BARRIERS: Trade protectionist policies of some countries, especially in the times of global economic crisis, have been given a thumbs down by the joint declaration of the G8 and G5 summit in this Italian city.

Developing countries, led by India, China and Brazil, today said conclusion of a multilateral trade agreement would help stimulate economies hit by the global downturn and for this to happen developed nations must agree to eliminate trade-distorting subsidies.

In a joint declaration at the end of their summit, leaders of India, Brazil, South Africa, China and Mexico agreed that there is a need to conclude the Doha Round of negotiations, the latest round of which was stalled due to differences between India and the US on farm subsidies, and find solutions to the remaining gaps.

"The Doha Development Round must deliver real and improved market access to developing country products and services and also ensure meaningful results where the greatest distortions lie, eliminating export subsidies in developing countries.

The joint declaration of the world’s wealthiest and most industrialized countries and the emerging economies said: “We will resist protectionism and open markets for trade and investment. We reject all protectionist measures in trade and investment”.

The emerging economies and developing countries had been saying that they were worst hit by the economic crisis and protectionist policies would spell doom for their economies. The declaration sought an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha development round in 2010. It said in order to fill remaining gaps in negotiations, ministers in-charge of trade had been instructed to explore all possible avenues of direct engagement within the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The ministers have been asked to meet before the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in September this year. The Doha talks on trade had broken down July last year following differences between India and the United States.

Admitting the global economic crisis had serious and alarming implications for growth and poverty eradication in developing countries, the declaration said G8 and G5 countries were determined to engage responsibly with low-income countries, especially those in situations of fragility. It resolved that partner countries should continue reforming financial system regulation to prevent boom and bust cycles in economy. The declaration admitted international financial institutions needed reform to make them compatible to the reality of the new world financial order.

OIL SPECULATION: The G8 nations have asked international bodies to study ways of intervening in oil markets to block speculation, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday.

“We also expressed our disapproval over the resumption of speculation internationally. Despite oil consumption falling 1 percent from last year, oil prices have risen from $30 a barrel to $70 a barrel,” Berlusconi told a news conference, where he also cited higher prices of cereals and grains.

“We have talked to international financial institutions, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD; giving them the mandate to study how to intervene to block this speculation that is being driven by hedge funds.”

U.S. crude oil futures fell more than $1 a barrel towards $59 on Friday, and were poised for their biggest weekly fall since January on uncertainty about economic recovery. — Agencies

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