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France's Sarkozy warns against "self-interest" at G20 talks

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged G20 nations to put efforts to steady the world economy ahead of national self interest. Emerging nations are particularly worried about interference in their economic affairs.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy

France currently holds the presidency of the G20

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has warned against countries putting their own self-interests ahead of efforts to stabilize the world economy at the beginning of G20 talks in Paris.

Sarkozy said that "giving priority to national interests" would lead to "the death of the G20," in an address to finance ministers and central bankers taking part in discussions.

Food at the checkout

Stabilization of food prices is one of France's aims

The appeal came as disagreement appeared to be arising over which indicators would be used to tackle future instability in the global economy.

With France currently holding the G20 presidency, Paris has identified reform of the international monetary system, price stabilization and improved financial governance as key areas.

To do so, it aims to forge consensus on several indicators to measure - and possibly to correct - global economic imbalances.

Some emerging countries view this with suspicion, preferring not to be constrained by outside agreements on such matters as exchange rates, currency reserves and public budgets.

Tough debate, strong reservations

Ahead of the talks, there were already reports of "quite tough debate" over the French plans, with strong reservations from the so-called "BRICS" countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Before the Paris summit, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde tried to reassure countries that the indicators were aimed at reaching "an equilibrium that will be beneficial to all."

Frankreichs Finanzministerin Christine Lagarde

Lagarde said it was not a question of dictating to developing nations

"What we do not want is to dictate to one or the other country - to stop being competitive, to stop exporting and to stop consuming," Lagarde told a meeting organized by the Institute of International Finance on Thursday.

Effort to keep food prices steady

As part of its aims, France is also calling for commodity markets, particularly food, to be regulated to avoid speculation and volatility. This was backed by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Friday.

"We must take care that food prices on which the poorest of the poorest - who would otherwise starve or suffer from hunger - depend, are not driven higher and that foodstuffs are not hoarded for the purposes of financial dealings," Schäuble told German public radio.

Also likely to come up for discussion are accusations that China is holding down its currency to boost Chinese exports. France has also put forward the possibility of efforts to curb the dollar's dominance as the international currency of reference

Author: Richard Connor (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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