G8 As The Main Economic Council Of Wealthy Nations
|Group of Eight|
The Group of Eight (G8, and formerly the G6 or Group of Six and also the G7 or Group of Seven) is a forum, created by France in 1975, for governments of six countries in the world: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1976, Canada joined the group (thus creating the G7). In 1997, the group added Russia thus becoming the G8. In addition, the European Union is represented within the G8, but cannot host or chair. "G8" can refer to the member states or to the annual summit meeting of the G8 heads of government. The former term, G6, is now frequently applied to the six most populous countries within the European Union. G8 ministers also meet throughout the year, such as the G7/8 finance ministers (who meet four times a year), G8 foreign ministers, or G8 environment ministers.
Each calendar year, the responsibility of hosting the G8 rotates through the member states in the following order: France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Canada. The holder of the presidency sets the agenda, hosts the summit for that year, and determines which ministerial meetings will take place. Lately, both France and the United Kingdom have expressed a desire to expand the group to include five developing countries, referred to as the Outreach Five (O5) or the Plus Five: Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, and South Africa. These countries have participated as guests in previous meetings, which are sometimes called G8+5.
With the G-20 major economies growing in stature since the 2008 Washington summit, world leaders from the group announced at their Pittsburgh summit on September 25, 2009, that the group will replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations.
Structure and activities-
By design, the G8 deliberately lacks an administrative structure like those for international organizations, such as the United Nations or the World Bank. The group does not have a permanent secretariat, or offices for its members.
The presidency of the group rotates annually among the member countries, with each new term beginning on 1 January of the year. The country holding the presidency is responsible for planning and hosting a series of ministerial-level meetings, leading up to a mid-year summit attended by the heads of government. The president of the European Commission participates as an equal in all summit events.
The ministerial meetings bring together ministers responsible for various portfolios to discuss issues of mutual or global concern. The range of topics include health, law enforcement, labor, economic and social development, energy, environment, foreign affairs, justice and interior, terrorism, and trade. There are also a separate set of meetings known as the G8+5, created during the 2005 Gleneagles, Scotland summit, that is attended by finance and energy ministers from all eight member countries in addition to the five "outreach countries" which are also known as the Group of Five — Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, and South Africa.
In June 2005, justice ministers and interior ministers from the G8 countries agreed to launch an international database on pedophiles. The G8 officials also agreed to pool data on terrorism, subject to restrictions by privacy and security laws in individual countries.
At the Heiligendamm Summit in 2007, the G8 acknowledged a proposal from the EU for a worldwide initiative on efficient energy use. They agreed to explore, along with the International Energy Agency, the most effective means to promote energy efficiency internationally. A year later, on 8 June 2008, the G8 along with China, India, South Korea and the European Community established the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation, at the Energy Ministerial meeting hosted by Japan holding 2008 G8 Presidency, in Aomori.
G8 Finance Ministers, whilst in preparation for the 34th Summit of the G8 Heads of State and Government in Toyako, Hokkaido, met on the 13 and 14 June 2008, in Osaka, Japan. They agreed to the “G8 Action Plan for Climate Change to Enhance the Engagement of Private and Public Financial Institutions.” In closing, Ministers supported the launch of new Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) by the World Bank, which will help existing efforts until a new framework under the UNFCCC is implemented after 2012.
The annual G8 leaders summit is attended by eight of the world's most powerful heads of government. However, as noted by commentators the G-8 summit is not the place to flesh out the details of any difficult or controversial policy issue in the context of a three-day event. Rather, the meeting is to bring a range of complex and sometimes inter-related issues. The G8 summit brings leaders together not so they can dream up quick fixes, but to talk and think about them together.
The G8 summit is an international event which is observed and reported by news media, but the G8's relevance is unclear. The member country holding the G8 presidency is responsible for organizing and hosting the year's summit, held for three days in mid-year; and for this reason, Tony Blair and the United Kingdom accumulated the lion's share of the credit for what went right (and wrong) at Gleneagles in 2005. Similarly, Yasuo Fukuda and Japan hope to garner the greater part of the credit for what went well (and what did not) at the Hokkaido Summit in 2008.
All eight of the G8 countries are amongst the fifteen top-ranked leading export countries. The USA, Germany, Italy, France, Japan and Russia are among the top 10 countries with the largest gold reserves. (U.S., Japan, UK, France, Canada, Germany, Italy.) The G8 countries represent seven of the ten largest economies by nominal GDP (Russia is not one of the ten largest economies by nominal GDP but has the seventh largest GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP); Canada was 8th in 2006 but in 2007 it lost eighth place to Spain, as it did in 2003, prompting the previous government headed by José María Aznar to request Spain's entrance in the G8.) Spain is not a member by itself of the G-20 major economies either. Some of the world's twenty-five largest stock exchanges by traded value and market capitalization are in G8 countries.
The 2nd and 3rd largest oil producers (USA and Russia) and the country with the 2nd largest reserves (Canada) are in the G8. Seven of the nine largest nuclear energy producers are in the G8 (USA, France, Japan, Russia, Germany, Canada, UK.) The 7 largest donors to the UN budget for the 2009 annual fiscal year are in the G8 (U.S., Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Canada.) The G8 and BRIC makes up almost all of the 12-nation "trillion dollar club of nations." Spain is the only non-G8 and non-G20 major economy nation that has a nominal GDP of over USD $1 trillion. All of the G8 and G8+5 countries (minus South Africa) are in the top twenty (20) nations that are ranked by the amount of voting power in the International Monetary Fund organization.
Cumulative influence of member nations-
Together the eight countries making up the G8 represent about 14% of the world population, but they represent about 60% of the Gross World Product as measured by gross domestic product, all eight nations being within the top 12 countries according to the CIA World Factbook. (see the CIA World Factbook column in List of countries by GDP (nominal)), the majority of global military power (seven are in the top 8 nations for military expenditure), and almost all of the world's active nuclear weapons. In 2007, the combined G8 military spending was US$850 billion. This is 72% of the world's total military expenditures. (see List of countries and federations by military expenditures) Four of the G8 members, the United Kingdom, United States, France and Russia, together account for 96–99% of the world's nuclear weapons. (see List of states with nuclear weapons)
Criticism and demonstrations-
As the annual summits are extremely high profile, they are subject to extensive lobbying by advocacy groups and street demonstrations by activists.
The most widespread criticisms centre on the assertion that members of G8 are responsible for global problems such as poverty in Africa and developing countries - through debt and trade policy; global warmingAIDS problem - due to strict medicine patent policy and other issues related to globalization. During the 31st G8 summit in United Kingdom, 225,000 people took to the streets of Edinburgh as part of the Make Poverty History campaign calling for Trade Justice, Debt Relief and Better Aid. Numerous other demonstrations also took place challenging the legitimacy of the G8. - due to carbon dioxide emissions;
One of the largest and most violent anti-globalization movement protests occurred for the 27th G8 summit.September 11 attacks two months later in 2001, the G8 have met at more remote locations. The 7 July 2005 London bombings were timed to coincide with the 31st G8 summit in United Kingdom. Following those events
The group has also been criticized for its membership, which critics argue has now become unrepresentative of the world's most powerful economies. In particular, China has recently surpassed every economy except the United States. Canada has been in recent years overtaken by Brazil, Russia and Spain by nominal GDP.
Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, has said: "We are committed to reforming the international system and our interests are best served by giving China a stake in the process. We would like to build with China the kind of relationship we had with the G-7."
According to the mingle trend survey, 51% of Britons think the G8 summit is no longer an appropriate way of making world decisions.
An economic and political group of the seven largest developed countries, the powerful group of nations does not include any developing nations.
The finance ministers of these countries meet several times a year to discuss economic policies. Their work is supported by regular, functional meetings of officials, including the G7 Finance Deputies.
It is not to be confused with the G8, which is the annual meeting of the heads of government of the aforementioned nations, plus Russia.
The G7 held a meeting on April 11, 2008, in Washington D.C., met again on October 10, 2008, in Washington D.C., and then met again on February 14, 2009, in Rome, to discuss the global financial crisis of 2007-2010. The group of finance ministers has pledged to take "all necessary steps" to help stem the crisis. Japanese Finance Minister Shōichi Nakagawa's behavior at a press conference for the latter meeting, where he allegedly behaved as if intoxicated, was the subject of criticism from the Japanese and international press.