France's Nicolas Sarkozy to lay out ambitious G20 goals in speech

Updated: 2011-01-25 07:57

By Daniel Flynn (China Daily)

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PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy will spell out his plans for reforming the international monetary system and curbing volatility in food and fuel prices on Monday in a keynote speech on France's year-long G20 presidency.

The address, billed as the official launch of his ambitious agenda, will present the findings of whirlwind consultations with G20 leaders including President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama on the three key areas of France's presidency.

Seeking to capitalize on his G20 leadership to improve his dire poll ratings at home, Sarkozy is expected to be most specific about measures to tackle high commodities prices, rather than his designs for overhauling the world's monetary system and reforming global economic governance.

A spike in world food prices to record highs in December has pushed commodities up the G20 agenda. But Sarkozy appears to have garnered scant foreign support for plans to wean the world economy off its reliance on the US dollar and establish a "new Bretton Woods" system.

Sarkozy is scheduled to deliver a 40-minute speech starting at 11 am that outlines France's priorities for the year. After that, he is expected to answer questions for more than an hour.

"Everything he will put forward has been discussed with the main partners," said a senior advisor to Sarkozy. "These are not solutions but some action points and objectives which G20 countries are ready to work on."

In recent weeks, French officials have played down hopes for achieving a major breakthrough on monetary reform by the time France's presidency concludes at a Cannes summit in November, but they point to commodities as an area where much can be done.

Sarkozy's conservative UMP party has strong roots in rural France and the commodities theme is seen as a potential vote winner in next year's election.

A poll on Sunday showed Sarkozy's approval rating languishing near record lows at 30 percent.

He is expected to discuss ways of making commodities and energy markets more transparent - including curbs on derivatives - and of improving data on output and inventories.


(China Daily 01/25/2011 page12)


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