OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada opposes France’s proposal to tighten controls on commodity speculation, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told Reuters Insider TV on Wednesday.
Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, which currently chairs the G20 group of emerging and developed nations, called on Tuesday for tighter regulation of the speculators he blames for spiraling food and energy prices.
Canada’s Conservative government is “against stronger regulation,” Flaherty said in New York.
“We try not to interfere in markets, including the food market,” he said. “Markets will find their price levels. We know that’s sometimes difficult in the oil situation and so on ... it’s discomforting, but in the long run it’s the best policy and we maintain our belief in open markets.”
Also on Wednesday, Britain’s farming minister, Jim Paice, told Reuters that Britain does not believe speculators have played a central role in creating volatility in food commodity markets and sees little value in more regulation.
G20 agriculture ministers meet in Paris next week to discuss French proposals including calls to encourage investment in agriculture and increase market transparency.
Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in January that the recent rally in grain and oilseed prices was based more on concerns about crop levels than on speculation.
Reporting by Fred Katayama in New York; writing by Rod Nickel and Louise Egan