EU commissioner calls for G-8 expansion

The Group of Eight, a forum of the world’s most industrialised democracies, should be overhauled and expanded to include countries such as India, China and Brazil, European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said today.

Ministers meet to discuss new economic order
Ministers meet to discuss new economic order

Any new grouping should broaden its focus to include debate on environmental, labour and energy issues, Lamy told Agence France Presse. The G-8 countries mainly meet to discuss economic matters.

 “I don’t know of any institution of that kind which has been created 30 years ago and is now very relevant,” Lamy said, during a visit to Dalian, China. “We would rather favour a sort of economic security council.”

Globalisation, boosted by better transport and communication links, has made it increasingly difficult for one country to shield its economy from developments in another. 

Economic Contagion

“Coming together in the 1970’s was mostly about economic development. Coming together today is about much more than that,”

EU Commissioner Lamy.

In July 1997, Thailand’s devaluation of its currency threw global capital markets into turmoil. Commodity prices plunged, battering resource-based currencies including the  Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars. Bond yields in emerging nations soared, while equity markets slid.

It was not until the US Federal Reserve reduced interest rates that global markets began to settle. The creation of an “economic security council” would reduce the risk of economic contagion.

“Coming together in the 1970’s was mostly about economic development.” Lamy said. “Coming together today is about much more than that.”

No problem

Lamy is in China attending a meeting of European and Asian economy ministers focused on kick-starting global trade talks. The informal nature of the G-8, according to Lamy, means communist China’s membership should not pose a problem.

Still, while China has proved eager to be accepted into various international associations including the World Trade Organisation, the G-8 is not a group it has expressed interest in.

In fact, during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to France earlier this year, Hu said China should not be considered eligible for membership of the exclusive club as it remained a developing nation.

India’s membership

India, on the other hand, would be interested after failing to secure a seat on the expanded United Nations Security Council, the country’s leading newspapers suggest.

The G-8 was created more than 30 years ago and counts as its members Russia, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and Italy.

The G-8’s first meeting took place in France in 1975 and included six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States).  Canada joined the group in 1976, and Russia in 1998.

Source: News Agencies

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