US suggests a G7 Expansion to Include Australia, India, and South Korea

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    9th Jun, 2020

US President Donald Trump is keen to expand G7 to include India, Russia, South Korea and Australia.

Context

US President Donald Trump is keen to expand G7 to include India, Russia, South Korea and Australia.

Background

  • The 46th G7 summit of the leaders of the Group of Seven was originally scheduled to be held on June 10 through June 12, 2020, at Camp David in US.
  • However, US President Donald Trump postponed the summit until at least September 2020.
  • The last time the US hosted the event was in 2012. President Barack Obama held it at a government-owned property, Camp David.
  • The US President Donald Trump has announced his decision to postpone the G7 summit till September and has decided to invite India, Russia, Australia and South Korea to the meet.
  • The decision to include India as part of the larger Grouping comes close on the heels of several face-offs between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
  • Both sides have been trying to resolve the issues as per the established mechanisms and communications channel.
  • The US has recently released a new vision document on China in which it has accused that country of exploiting the rule-based world order and attempting to re-shape the international system which would favour the interests and ideology of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP).
  • The report titled, ‘United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China’, has been released by the White House and it has declared that it is “responding to the CCP’s direct challenge by acknowledging that the two major powers are in a “strategic competition and protecting” their “interests appropriately”.

Analysis

What is G-7?

  • G7 stands for “Group of Seven” industrialized nations.
  • Comprising the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada (and the European Union), the group meets annually to discuss a range of global issues, managing to usually find a common stance.
  • It used to be known as the G8 (Group of Eight) until 2014 when Russia was excluded because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
  • The group includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan, France and Italy. Together, the G7 countries represent 40% of global GDP and 10% of the world’s population.
  • It is an informal bloc and takes no mandatory decisions, so the leaders’ declarations at the end of the summit are not binding.
  • The G-7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters. The G-7 nations meet at annual summits that are presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis. 

Origin of the group

  • France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and West Germany formed the Group of Six in 1975 so that the noncommunist powers could come together to discuss economic concerns, which at the time included inflation and recession following an OPEC oil embargo.
  • Canada joined the following year.
  • Russia eventually joined in 1998 — and its inclusion was meant as a signal of cooperation between East and West after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

What is the need of such expansion?

  • The G7, formed in 1975-76, comprises the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Italy.
  • Not all of these countries are among the most advanced now.
  • India is both a military and economic giant but isn’t part of the G7.
  • So, its expansion, just like that of the United Nations Security Council, is called for. However, there is more than that to Trump’s moves.
  • China has emerged as the new nemesis for the US and many other countries, particularly after the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
  • Having India and?others in the? G7 is Trump’s way of countering the rising influence of China on the world stage.
  • On the decision to invite other countries including India, according to the US president "The G7 as a grouping is not representing properly what is going on in the world. And it is a very outdated group of countries."

Difference between G-7 and G-20

  • They have similar names and similar functions. While the G7 mainly has to do with politics, the G20 is a broader group that focuses on the global economy.
  • It’s also known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy” and represents 80% of global GDP.
  • It gathers leaders from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Union.
  • Founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998, the G20 started off as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors.
  • However, as a response to the financial crisis of 2008, the G20 was upgraded to head of state level in an inaugural summit in Washington, D.C.

China’s angle

  • The tension between the US and China is escalating over the coronavirus pandemic, with Trump accusing Beijing of not divulging timely information about the disease and demanding a probe into the origins of the virus.
  • However, China has rejected all US allegations of a cover up regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Trump is also aggressively pushing for decoupling China from global supply chains which could hurt the world's second-largest economy in the long run.
  • The US currently holds the annual presidency of G7 countries. In view of the coronavirus pandemic, there were talks of the summit being held virtually. However, Trump had been suggesting that it be held in person.
  • During the summit, the G7 president normally invites heads of states of one or two countries to attend the meeting as a special invitee.
  • Last year, French President Emanuel Macron had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the G7 Summit. Prime Minister Modi attended the G7 meeting in the French town of Biarritz in August last.
  • Trump's invitation to Russia is regarded as a source of concern for China as Beijing had built up close relations with Moscow ever since it was expelled from what was previously known as G8 in 2014 by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, following Russia's takeover of Crimea.
  • Since then, Russia has emerged as a close strategic ally of China.

G-7 & India

  • Calling the existing Group of Seven (G-7) club a “very outdated group of countries”, US President Donald Trump said that he wanted to include India, Russia, South Korea, and Australia in the group; although it was unclear whether he wanted the expansion to be permanent
  • Last year, the G-7 summit was held on August 24-26 at Biarritz in southwestern France, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited to attend as a special guest of French President Emmanuel Macron.
  • India joining an expanded G-7 that perceives China to be an imaginary enemy will result in India-China bilateral relations deteriorating.
  • The US is keen on roping India in not only because the latter has become the fifth-largest economy in the world, but also because India is considered an important pillar for the US' Indo-Pacific Strategy.
  • The US has long sought to strengthen India's role as a counterbalance to China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Significance for India

  • The proposed G-11 grouping would recognise India’s place amongst the world’s richest nations, and acknowledge its global voice. 
  • A  seat at the G-7 would go a long way towards solidifying India's commitment to fashioning itself as a key manufacturing destination in the coming years
  • It would be in India's interests to adopt a foreign policy stance premised on multilateralism over isolation, to counter-balance the military power-divide between itself and China

The road ahead

The decision to expand the grouping, however, cannot be taken by the US alone. Other members such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada, have to not only agree to Trump’s proposal to expand the grouping but also on the new members that he wants to add, said a diplomatic source of one of the G7 member countries.

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