13 August 1999
Third World loses out on commodities

DEVELOPING countries are estimated to have lost $4.6 billion (£2.86bn) from the value of their exports last year because of low commodity prices.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said three crops accounted for 85% of that decline – sugar, cotton and rubber.

Sugar had been heavily oversupplied on the world market, a position exacerbated by currency devaluation in Brazil, the biggest producer.

Earnings from agricultural raw materials fell 23% or $2.5bn last year, with cotton and rubber, the largest commodities in the group, accounting for most of the drop.

Earnings from oilseeds and beverage crops fared better. The value of oilseed exports fell just 1%, while gains in cocoa and tea sales offset falls in coffee.

The FAO said global meat exports dropped 10% to $22.6bn (£14bn), reflecting generally low prices in pigmeat, which slid 21% last year.

  • Financial Times 13/08/99 page 26 (News Digest)