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G20 wants free trade in agricultural products, Germany and Spain say

Staff Writer |
The Group of 20 industrialized nations (G20) expressed support for free trade in agricultural products, German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said.

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"We want rules-based and open trade without protectionism," Kloeckner said during the agriculture ministers' meeting in Buenos Aires.

Spanish Agriculture Minister Luis Planas said trade disputes were especially damaging to the agriculture sector "because they affect the basic aspect of human nourishment."

Other subjects under discussion included sustainable land use, measures to prevent foodstuffs going to waste and the role of new technologies in the agricultural sector.

Planas stressed the link between sustainable agriculture and the fight against climate change. "Spain and the entire Mediterranean basin would be highly affected by climate change, which is already having an impact on our agriculture and cattle farming," he said.

He said the final declaration of the meeting would stress the need for sustainable agriculture in response to "the situation of the world, with 815 million people going hungry and two billion others whose nutritional needs are not met."

The U.S. and the EU recently reached a tentative trade deal, with the U.S. backing off a threat of tariffs on car imports, to defuse a row that began with U.S. President Donald Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminium.

France said it opposed including agriculture in vast trade deals with the US, expressing concern over the possible lowering of European standards in food, health or environment.

The G20 group comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Britain, the U.S. and the EU.

Together they control about 69% of all land suitable for farming, as well as 80% of the global trade in agricultural products.