G-20 major economies
|Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors|
Member countries in the G-20
Members of the European Union not individually represented
|Abbreviation||G-20 or G20|
2008 (Heads of State Summits)
|Purpose/focus||Bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy.|
|Current chair||Russia (2013)|
The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (also known as the G-20, G20, and Group of Twenty) is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 major economies: 19 countries plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the European Council and by the European Central Bank. The G-20 heads of government or heads of state have also periodically conferred at summits since their initial meeting in 2008. Collectively, the G-20 economies account for approximately 80 percent of the gross world product (GWP), 80 percent of world trade (including EU intra-trade), and two-thirds of the world population. They furthermore account for 84.1 percent and 82.2 percent of the world's economic growth by nominal GDP and GDP (PPP) respectively from the years 2010 to 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The G-20 was proposed by former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin as a forum for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. The group was formally inaugurated in September 1999, and held its first meeting in December 1999. It studies, reviews, and promotes high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization. With the G-20 growing in stature after the 2008 Washington summit, its leaders announced on 25 September 2009, that the group would replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations. Since its inception, the G-20's membership policies have been criticized by numerous intellectuals, and its summits have been a focus for major protests.
The heads of the G-20 nations met biannually at G-20 summits between 2008 and 2011. Since the November 2011 Cannes summit, all G-20 summits have been held annually. Russia currently holds the chair of the G-20, and will host the eighth G-20 summit in September 2013.
The G-20, which superseded the G33 (which had itself superseded the G22), was foreshadowed at the Cologne Summit of the G7 in June 1999, but was only formally established at the G7 Finance Ministers' meeting on 26 September 1999. The inaugural meeting took place on 15–16 December 1999 in Berlin. In 2008, Spain and the Netherlands were included, by French invitation, in the G-20 Leaders Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy.
The theme of the 2006 G-20 meeting was "Building and Sustaining Prosperity". The issues discussed included domestic reforms to achieve "sustained growth", global energy and resource commodity markets, 'reform' of the World Bank and IMF, and the impact of demographic changes due to an aging population. Trevor A. Manuel, the South African Minister of Finance, was the chairperson of the G-20 when South Africa hosted the Secretariat in 2007. Guido Mantega, Brazil's Minister of Finance, was the chairperson of the G-20 in 2008; Brazil proposed dialogue on competition in financial markets, clean energy and economic development and fiscal elements of growth and development. In a statement following a meeting of G7 finance ministers on 11 October 2008, US President George W. Bush stated that the next meeting of the G-20 would be important in finding solutions to the burgeoning economic crisis of 2008. An initiative by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown led to a special meeting of the G-20, a G-20 Leaders Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, on 15 November 2008.
Despite lacking any formal ability to enforce rules, the G-20's prominent membership gives it a strong input on global policy. However, there remain disputes over the legitimacy of the G-20, and criticisms of its organisation and the efficacy of its declarations.
The G-20 Summit was created as a response both to the financial crisis of 2007–2010 and to a growing recognition that key emerging countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance. The G-20 Summits of heads of state or government were held in addition to the G-20 Meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, who continued to meet to prepare the leaders' summit and implement their decisions. After the 2008 debut summit in Washington, D.C., G-20 leaders met twice a year in London and Pittsburgh in 2009, Toronto and Seoul in 2010.
Since 2011, when France chaired and hosted the G-20, the summits have been held only once a year. Mexico chaired and hosted the leaders' summit in 2012. Future summits will be held in Russia in 2013, Australia in 2014 and Turkey in 2015.
|Date||Host country||Host city||Website|
|1st||November 2008||United States||Washington, D.C.|
|2nd||April 2009||United Kingdom||London|||
|3rd||September 2009||United States||Pittsburgh|||
|5th||November 2010||South Korea||Seoul|||
|7th||June 2012||Mexico||Los Cabos|||
|8th||September 2013||Russia||Saint Petersburg|||
G-20 leaders' chair rotation
To decide which nation gets to chair the G-20 leaders' meeting for a given year, all 19 nations are assigned to one of five different groupings. Each group holds a maximum of four nations. This system has been in place since 2010, when South Korea, which is in Group 5, held the G-20 chair. Mexico, the host of the 2012 summit, is in Group 3. In 2013, Russia, which is in Group 2, will host the G-20 leaders' summit. Australia, the host of the 2014 G-20 summit, is in Group 1. The table below lists the nations' groupings:
|Group 1||Australia||Group 2||India||Group 3||Argentina||Group 4||France||Group 5||China|
|Saudi Arabia||South Africa||Mexico||Italy||Japan|
|United States||Turkey||—||United Kingdom||South Korea|
The G-20 operates without a permanent secretariat or staff. The chair rotates annually among the members and is selected from a different regional grouping of countries. The chair is part of a revolving three-member management group of past, present and future chairs referred to as the Troika. The incumbent chair establishes a temporary secretariat for the duration of its term, which coordinates the group's work and organizes its meetings. The role of the Troika is to ensure continuity in the G-20's work and management across host years. The current chair of the G-20 is Russia; the chair was handed over from Mexico after the June 2012 G-20 Summit.
Proposed permanent secretariat
In 2010, President of France Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the establishment of a permanent G-20 secretariat, similar to the United Nations. Seoul and Paris were suggested as possible locations for its headquarters. China and Brazil supported the establishment of a secretariat, while Italy expressed opposition to the proposal. South Korea proposed a "cyber secretariat" as an alternative.
List of members
Currently, there are 20 members of the G-20. These include, at the leaders summits, the leaders of 19 countries and of the European Union, and, at the ministerial-level meetings, the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries and of the European Union. In addition, Spain has participated in every meeting so far, despite not being a formally recognized member. The first of the tables below lists the member entities and their leaders, finance ministers and central bank governors. The second table lists relevant statistics such as population and GDP figures for each member, as well as detailing memberships of other international organisations, such as the G8 or BRICS. Total GDP figures are given in millions of US dollars.
Member countries data
|North America||United States||3,969,000||15,684,750||15,684,750||49,922||49,922||0.937||309,173,000||Advanced|
|Middle East||Saudi Arabia||518,300||727,307||906,806||25,084||31,275||0.782||27,123,977||Developing|
In addition to these 20 members, several other international forums and institutions, as represented by their respective chief executive officers, participate in meetings of the G-20. These include the managing director and Chairman of the International Monetary Fund, the President of the World Bank, the International Monetary and Financial Committee and the Chairman of the Development Assistance Committee.
The G-20's membership does not reflect exactly the 19 largest national economies of the world in any given year. The organization states:
|“||In a forum such as the G-20, it is particularly important for the number of countries involved to be restricted and fixed to ensure the effectiveness and continuity of its activity. There are no formal criteria for G-20 membership and the composition of the group has remained unchanged since it was established. In view of the objectives of the G-20, it was considered important that countries and regions of systemic significance for the international financial system be included. Aspects such as geographical balance and population representation also played a major part.||”|
All 19 member nations are among the top 29 economies as measured in GDP at nominal prices in a list published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for 2013. Not represented by membership in the G-20 are Switzerland (ranked 20th by the IMF), Iran (21), Norway (23) and Taiwan (27), even though they rank higher than some members. Spain (13), the Netherlands (18), Sweden (22), Poland (24), Belgium (25) and Austria (28) are included only as part of the EU, and not independently.
When the countries' GDP is measured at purchasing power parity (PPP) rates, all 19 members are among the top 25 in the world on April 2013, according to the IMF. Iran (17), Taiwan (20) and Thailand (24) are not G-20 members, while Spain (14), Poland (21) and the Netherlands (23) are only included in the EU slot. However, in a list of average GDP, calculated for the years since the group's creation (1999–2008) at both nominal and PPP rates, only Spain, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and Poland appear above any G-20 member in both lists simultaneously.
Spain, being the 13th largest economy in the world and 5th in the European Union in terms of nominal GDP, is a "permanent guest" of the organization, although the Spanish government's policy is to not request official membership. As such, a Spanish delegation has been invited to, and has attended, every G-20 heads of state summit since the G-20's inception.
Role of Asian countries
A 2011 report released by the Asian Development Bank predicted that large Asian economies such as China and India would play a more important role in global economic governance in the future. The report stated that the rise of emerging market economies heralded a new world order, in which the G-20 would become the global economic steering committee.
The report furthermore noted that Asian countries had led the global recovery following the late-2000s recession. It predicted that the region would have a greater presence on the global stage, shaping the G-20 agenda for balanced and sustainable growth through strengthening intraregional trade and stimulating domestic demand.
Typically, several countries that are not permanent members of the G-20 are extended invitations to participate in the summits. The invitees are chosen by the host country. For the 2010 summits, for example, both Canada and South Korea invited Ethiopia (chair of NEPAD), Malawi (chair of the African Union), Vietnam (chair of ASEAN), and Spain. Canada also invited the Netherlands, while South Korea invited Singapore. Both Canada and South Korea invited seven international organizations: the United Nations, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, and the Financial Stability Board.
Exclusivity of membership
Although the G-20 has stated that the group's "economic weight and broad membership gives it a high degree of legitimacy and influence over the management of the global economy and financial system," its legitimacy has been challenged. With respect to the membership issue, U.S. President Barack Obama has noted the difficulty of pleasing everyone: "everybody wants the smallest possible group that includes them. So, if they're the 21st largest nation in the world, they want the G-21, and think it's highly unfair if they have been cut out." A 2011 report for the Danish Institute for International Studies, entitled "The G-20 and Beyond: Towards Effective Global Economic Governance", criticised the G-20's exclusivity, highlighting in particular its under-representation of the African continent. Moreover, the report stated that the G-20's practice of inviting observers from non-member states is a mere "concession at the margins", and does not grant the organisation representational legitimacy.
In a 2010 interview with Der Spiegel, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre called the G-20 "one of the greatest setbacks since World War II." Although Norway is the seventh-largest contributor to international development programs in the United Nations, it is not a member of the EU, and thus is not represented in the G-20 even indirectly. Norway, like the other 170 nations not among the G-20, has little or no voice within the group. Støre characterized the G-20 as a "self-appointed group", arguing that it undermines the legitimacy of organizations set up in the aftermath of World War II, such as the IMF, World Bank and United Nations:
The G-20 is a self-appointed group. Its composition is determined by the major countries and powers. It may be more representative than the G-7 or the G-8, in which only the richest countries are represented, but it is still arbitrary. We no longer live in the 19th century, a time when the major powers met and redrew the map of the world. No one needs a new Congress of Vienna.—Jonas Gahr Støre, 2010
Global Governance Group (3G) response
According to Singapore's representative to the United Nations, UN members who are not G-20 members have responded to the G-20's exclusivity by either reacting with indifference, refusing to acknowledge the G-20's legitimacy, or accepting the G-20's status while hoping to "engage the G-20 as the latter continues to evolve so that [their] interests are taken on board." Out of this latter group, Singapore has taken a leading role in organizing an informal "Global Governance Group" of 28 non-G-20 countries, seeking to collectively channel their views into the G-20 process more effectively. Singapore's chairing of the Global Governance Group was cited as a rationale for inviting Singapore to the November 2010 G-20 summit in South Korea.
Foreign Policy critiques
The American magazine Foreign Policy has published articles condemning the G-20, in terms of its principal function as an alternative to the supposedly exclusive G8. It questions the actions of some of the G-20 members, and advances the notion that some nations should not have membership in the first place. For example, it has suggested that Argentina should be formally replaced in the group by Spain, because Spain's economy is larger. Furthermore, with the effects of the Great Recession still ongoing, the magazine has criticized the G-20's efforts to implement reforms of the world's financial institutions, branding such efforts as failed.
On 14 June 2012, an essay published by the National Taxpayers Union was forwarded to Foreign Policy, espousing a critical view of the application of G-20 membership. The essay's authors, Alex Brill and James K. Glassman, used a numerical table with seven criteria to conclude that Indonesia, Argentina, Russia and Mexico do not qualify for G-20 membership, and that Switzerland, Singapore, Norway and Malaysia had overtaken some of the current members. However, the gap between current members Mexico and Russia and the lower-ranked entries in the authors' list (Malaysia and Saudi Arabia) was only slight. Thus, it was concluded that there is no obvious group of twenty nations that should be included in the G20, and that fair and transparent metrics are essential, as they justify the difficult decisions that will be required in order to differentiate among similarly situated countries.
The G-20's transparency and accountability have been questioned by critics, who call attention to the absence of a formal charter and the fact that the most important G-20 meetings are closed-door. In 2001, the economist Frances Stewart proposed an Economic Security Council within the United Nations as an alternative to the G-20. In such a council, members would be elected by the General Assembly based on their importance in the world economy, and the contribution they are willing to provide to world economic development.
The cost and extent of summit-related security is often a contentious issue in the hosting country, and G-20 summits have attracted protesters from a variety of backgrounds, including information activists, nationalists, and opponents of Fractional Reserve Banking and crony capitalism. In 2010, the Toronto G-20 summit sparked mass protests and rioting, leading to the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.
- Emerging powers
- Global Governance, an academic journal on international relations
- Great power
- Regional power
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: G20|
- Official G-20 website (English version), also available in Russian
- G-20 Seoul Summit 2010
- G-20 Information Centre from the University of Toronto
- A Guide To Committees, Groups, And Clubs from the International Monetary Fund
- G-20 Special Report from The Guardian
- IPS News – G-20 Special Report
- The G-20's role in the post-crisis world by FRIDE
- The Group of Twenty—A History, 2007
- Economics for Everyone: G20 – Gearing for Growth