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New UN survey shows dramatic changes in world's commodities markets

New UN survey shows dramatic changes in world's commodities markets

Against the backdrop of a rapidly integrating global economy, commodities markets around the world are experiencing dramatic transformations, according to a new survey released today by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

UNCTAD's World Commodity Survey 2000-2001 attributes these alterations to globalization and liberalization, which have "profoundly changed" traditional methods of production, marketing and financing.

"This can be seen at the international level, with the end of economic clauses in international commodity agreements," UNCTAD said. "It is also evident at the national level, with the disappearance of national commodity marketing boards and stabilization bodies."

According to the Survey, the performance of commodities has varied in today's turbulent economic and financial environment. Metals and ores have enjoyed some revival, while many tropical agricultural products such as coffee and cocoa have experienced historic lows. The Survey calls particular attention to the "peculiarities of the petroleum market," which has seen the price of a barrel of oil jump from below $10 in 1998 to over $30 in 2000.

"In this context, systematic analytical information and relevant indicators on the specific nature of commodities are essential tools for competitiveness and efficiency," UNCTAD stresses.

The 350-page Survey, which was produced in cooperation with the French academic group Cyclope, offers new information and statistics on markets, structures and innovations for more than 80 commodities. It also explores recent world trends and developments that have an impact on commodity markets, providing analysis on a range of issues, including electronic commodity exchanges, genetically modified organisms, temperate zone agriculture, tropical products, iron, steel, precious metals and energy.