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Cablegate: Response : Impact of Rising Food / Commodity Prices -

VZCZCXRO2047
RR RUEHMRE RUEHSR
DE RUEHFR #0751 1091641
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181641Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2684
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUEHXQ/ALL EUROPEAN UNION POST
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1993
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0567
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2863
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 6668

UNCLAS PARIS 000751

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR EBB; OES; EUR/ERA;
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY;
STATE/EEB/TPP/ABT/ATP JANET SPECK
USDA/OS/SCHAFER/CONNER;
USDA/FAS FOR OA/YOST/JACKSON/ROSADO;
OCRA/CURTIS/ALEXANDER;
ONA/RIEMENSCHNEIDER/YOUNG;
OFSO/LEE/YOUNG;
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID ETRD PGOV WTRO EUN FR INR
SUBJECT: RESPONSE : IMPACT OF RISING FOOD / COMMODITY PRICES -
FRANCE: FOOD AID AND PROTECTIONNISM

REF: 2008 STATE 039410

1. SUMMARY: The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and
Ministry of Agriculture (MinAg) recently announced the creation of a
working group on the global food security issue. This working group
will present to the Government of France (GOF) proposals for both
immediate actions and medium and long-term policies to address the
global food security issue. President Sarkozy also announced April
18 that France will more than double its funding to the World Food
Program and in his announcement linked the food security issue to
climate change. Ag Minister Barnier also expressed France's
intention to extend the French initiative to the EU level. He also
stressed that the current food security crisis highlights the need
to resist pressure for agricultural trade liberalization in the
newly announced WTO talks and to reform CAP. END SUMMARY

2. The French working group on Food Security will gather officials
from both Min Ag and MFA as well as participants from the Ministries
of Finance, Industry and Cooperation. Scientists from various
agricultural research organizations will also participate.

3. The working group will propose initial actions to support
endangered populations in the most vulnerable countries. It could
include emergency deliveries of food or financial support for
locally purchase food. In the medium term, the working group will
propose policies to increase global food supply in the coming months
as well as to strengthen early warning systems and management future
food crises. Finally, the working group will make recommendations
to the GOF on supporting long-term farm policies in developing
countries to increase their self-sufficiency and food security.
President Sarkozy announced that France will also more than double
its funding of the World Food Program to euros 60 million (USD 100
million)in 2008. 2007 France funding of the WFP amounted to USD 33
millions.

4. President Sarkozy speaking at the MEM (Major Economies Meeting)
meeting on climate change April 18 highlighted the link between food
security and climate changes. In France's views, more frequent
droughts, reduced seafood and farm supply due to climate-related
disasters increase the risk of a global food crisis. He urged
developed economies to be proactive on curbing greenhouse gas
production.

5. Ag Minister Barnier echoed France's initiative at the EU
Agricultural Council of April 15. He announced that France will
initiate an EU conference on global food security likely to be held
in Brussels in July 2008 at the beginning of the French EU
presidency. But, he also, for the first time, made a link between
the ongoing WTO talks in Geneva and the current food security
crisis. Earlier in the week, Min Ag issued a press release stating
that Agriculture should not be the "adjusting variable" of the WTO
negotiations. In a written response to a French parliamentarian, Ag
Minister Barnier also stated that France prefers no WTO agreement to
a bad agreement, because "in a bad agreement, the farm sector of the
developing countries will be the most hurt." Barnier wrote, in an
op-ed on April 17 that the current food security crisis illustrates
the need to limit if not to drop any proposed liberalization of the
Common Agricultural Policy.

6. Comment: The Global food security issue has made the headlines
in France. European, U.S. and other countries' biofuel programs
have been partly blamed for the hike in global commodity and food
prices. What is new is that this issue is now being used by the GOF
to advance its policy objectives relative to the WTO Doha
negotiations and CAP reform. Embassy Paris is preparing an op-ed
piece to counter the Ag Minister's contention that free trade is
detrimental to the world food supply situation. End comment.

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