German minister criticises Deutsche Bank food commodities trade

HAMBURG Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:01am EST

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HAMBURG Jan 23 (Reuters) - German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner has criticised the decision by Germany's Deutsche Bank to continue dealing in food commodities, a German newspaper reported on Wednesday.

"Deutsche Bank has obviously failed to recognise the signs of the times," Aigner told the daily newspaper Handelsblatt.

Deutsche Bank said on Saturday it would keep dealing in financial derivatives in agricultural commodities which groups such as Oxfam blame for pushing up international food prices and promoting famine in poor countries.

Deutsche Bank had responded to controversy over the issue in March 2012 by declaring a moratorium on new financial derivatives linked to food commodities. But it now says there is no conclusive evidence to prove speculators are responsible for rising prices of agricultural products.

Aigner has repeatedly expressed concern that outside financial investment in agricultural commodity markets distorts prices.

"I expect a clear line to be drawn between responsible investments which are helpful in the fight against hunger, and transactions which could increase global price swings," she told the newspaper.

She has called for more transparency in commodity markets and clear visibility of the difference between futures investment by industrial food buyers and financial investors.

"In view of almost 900 million people in the world suffering from hunger, those who make no differentiation here are showing a lack of feeling and acting irresponsibly," Aigner told the newspaper.

The bank told the newspaper it currently had no plans for new agricultural commodities products.

Its decision to continue dealing in food commodities had sparked strong criticism from food campaigners.

Europe's biggest insurer, Germany's Allianz, earlier this year also said agricultural derivatives were being unfairly blamed for swings in food prices.

In August 2012, Germany's Commerzbank removed agricultural products from a commodity index fund after accusations that speculation had pushed up food prices and fuelled unrest in some poor countries. (Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by James Jukwey)

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