Oxfam reaction to European Commission’s Communication on commodity markets and raw materials

Published: 2nd February 2011

The European Commission today unveiled a new strategy on how Europe should protect its access to raw materials and the issue of regulation of commodity markets including farm goods.

On commodity markets and speculation:

Marita Wiggerthale, Oxfam’s food and agriculture expert, said:

“It is welcome that the EC appears now to be listening more closely to growing evidence of the role which speculation plays in driving up food prices.”

“Even in times of good harvests, food price volatility affects poor people’s ability to feed themselves and their families. Governments must intervene to regulate the commodity markets, as part of a wider range of measures to improve food security for the world’s poorest people.”

“Yet, Europe can’t just talk the talk, it must also walk the walk. The EU must move to integrate measures to tackle food speculation within proposals on EU financial market reform and work with the G20 to ensure appropriate measures are also adopted at the global level.” 

“Just three years after the 2007/08 spike in cereals prices on world markets, the sharpest seen in 34 years, food prices are on the rise again and causing alarm. Some countries such as Sudan, Mauritania, Afghanistan and Mongolia are already seeing wheat prices rising at home because of higher world market prices.” 

On access to raw materials:

David Hachfeld, Oxfam’s trade expert, said:

''It is shameful that Europe appears willing to pursue its own narrow commercial interests in its relations with developing countries, with little real effort to ensure there is mutual benefit. Promises about a better partnership with Africa still look like window dressing for a forceful diplomatic and trade strategy.”

“On one hand, the EC is attempting to force developing countries to ban or curb the use of export taxes, which many rely on to help them develop. On the other, the EC is trying to negotiate new rules on investment that will give European companies unprecedented access to developing country raw materials on the same or even better terms as local businesses.”

Contact information

Angela Corbalan on + 32 473 56 22 60 or angela.corbalan@oxfaminternational.org, or @AngelaCorbalan