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G20 summits seek to better coordinate global economic policy. The difficulty is to achieve tangible results, while at the same time maintaining a good representation of the whole planet.
South Korea, host of the G-20 summit that will be held in November, has invited non-members Ethiopia, Malawi, Singapore, Spain and Vietnam, as well as seven international organizations to Seoul.
The G-20 group has invited non-G-20 member countries to previous summits in the interests of enhancing its effectiveness and broadening its geographical representation.
Spain has participated in all four G-20 summits since it is a prominent member of the European Union (EU) and because it is the world's ninth largest economy by GDP.
To reduce the Western European presence at the summit, the Netherlands was not invited. The Netherlands, which had also been invited to all prior G-20 summits, is the globe's 16th largest economy -- but since it is part of the EU, its interests will still be heard given that the EU is separately represented as a non-state G-20 member.
“It might be perplexing to the Netherlands. We feel a bit sorry for them,” said Rhee Chang-yong, Seoul’s “Sherpa,” or chief negotiator. in a press briefing in Seoul.
“But the Sherpas of the G-20 member nations have finally agreed that we needed to have a better geographical balance. There was a consensus that a certain region had been over-represented. It was a complicated issue, because it was entangled with conflicting national interests of G-20 members. It was a hot potato. With the invitation list finally set, we can now save time and focus more on the meeting’s agenda.”
Singapore, one of the new G-20 invitees, is taking a lead role in the Global Governance Group (3G), an informal gathering of 28 smaller non-G-20 nations that was created in 2009. Singapore is also an important global financial hub.
Malawi is the chair of the African Union, and Ethiopia is the chair of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Vietnam is the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The international organizations invited to the Seoul Summit comprise the same seven participants from the recent Toronto summit: the United Nations (UN), International Labour Organization (ILO), World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), and Financial Stability Board (FSB).
The G-20 is primarily an economic coordination platform, with a focus on key issues in the global economy. As such, a key criteria for the membership is economic clout, according to the official G-20 website, resulting in the 20 members accounting for about 85 percent of the global GDP.
The three countries with the largest economies which are neither part of the EU nor the G-20 are Switzerland, the world's 19th largest economy, Norway and Taiwan. Interestingly, each of them has a larger economy by GDP than Saudi Arabia or South Africa, the smallest G-20 members, which ranked 26th and 32nd in GDP as of 2009, according to the IMF.
It could be said that the largest economies not represented in the G-20 are not found in Asia or Africa, but rather in the Middle East, Central Asia and The Americas.
The first G-20 summit was held in October 2008 in Washington in response to the global financial crisis.
Regular G-20 members are South Africa, Canada, Mexico, U.S., Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the EU.
This article is copyrighted by International Business Times, the business news leader