French President Nicolas Sarkozy would empower his proposed international agricultural body with the release of reliable, up-to-date data on world production and stocks, which isn't always the case with data provided by countries at present, an anonymous source close to the matter said.
"The president is pushing for a body which would co-ordinate existing international organizations in order to provide precise and regularly-updated data," the person said, adding the first official meetings on the subject are scheduled at the end of December, before G-20 ministers meet in the first half 2011.
The question of whether the body would have a mandate to verify data is among the issues to be examined, the spokesman said.
"Publishing precise and up-to-date data requires being able to collect reliable data and being able to analyze its value," he said, adding the modalities to implement this goal need to be discussed with other G-20 countries.
Regulation of commodities markets is a priority for France's G-20 presidency, which began Nov. 12.
One of France's goals is to improve market transparency; more accurate data on agricultural output and stocks is a key proposal, together with increased regulation of derivative markets.
The subject is politically sensitive as stocks are strategic for states, some of which prefer not to disclose them.
Sarkozy first mentioned the idea of an international body at a farmers' meeting Nov. 25.
"Maybe it would be useful to have an international agricultural organization to assess output forecasts," Sarkozy said.
"When Russia and Ukraine suspended exports in August, none of the numerous international organizations which collect data were able to give updated figures on stock levels," he said.
"This absence of transparency brought speculation. Prices soared without knowledge of stocks."