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Germany

Germany, Mexico to Promote Joint Initiative on Food

Looking ahead to the G8 summit in Japan in July, Germany and Mexico have agreed to present a joint initiative to stabilize the global prices of foodstuffs, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Mexico City on Monday.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, shakes hands with Mexico's President Felipe Calderon during a welcoming ceremony at the national palace in Mexico City, Monday, May 19, 2008.

Food security and German jobs were on the agenda in Mexico City

In the last leg of a Latin American tour that also took her to Brazil, Peru and Colombia, Merkel said on Monday, May 19, she reached an agreement with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to deal jointly with an issue that has become "a central question" for international politics.

"We can do many things wrong here [in Latin America] if we do not pay attention to it," Merkel said. "However, we can do many things right, and secure many jobs in Germany, if we build long-term partnerships."

No concrete details of the agreement were made public, although Merkel said the first step would be an analysis of how the rising living standards in emerging countries are influencing the situation regarding foodstuffs.

Mexico says production boost needed

In a joint press conference with Merkel, Calderon called for a massive increase in food production around the world. He stressed that a "very aggressive production boost" is needed and blamed the food scarcity on stronger demand in China and India but also on the massive use of corn by the United States to boost its ethanol production.

The rise in the price of corn, a staple in the Mexican diet across all sectors of society, has caused particular worry in Mexico in recent months. Neighboring countries like Haiti and Honduras have even seen violent riots in a reaction to rising food prices -- as have other countries round the world.

Merkel, who arrived in Mexico late Sunday, was given an official welcome at the central courtyard of the National Palace, prior to a Mexico and Germany Economic Forum.

Calderon attended last year's G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, alongside the leaders of a group of emerging countries such as Brazil, India, South Africa and China.

According to figures made public by the Mexican-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, over 1,000 German firms are currently active in Mexico, and the volume of trade between the two countries is almost $14 billion (8.9 billion euros) a year.

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