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News Analysis: G8 cannot afford to go it alone in solving global problems
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10:34, July 09, 2008

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In a reflection of global power shifts, the Group of Eight (G8), once a conglomerate of the most powerful nations, has had to rely more and more on emerging developing countries to solve world crises, analysts say.

On the last day of the three-day G8 summit, which started here Monday, leaders of the eight major industrialized nations will meet their counterparts from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

The so-called outreach session will be followed by a major economies meeting, which will gather leaders of Australia, Indonesia and South Korea as well as the G8 nations and the five developing countries.

The G8 originated in the wake of the energy crisis and the ensuing economic crunch in the 1970s.

Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Italy, the United States and West Germany formed the Group of Seven, the predecessor of the G8, to deal with economic problems faced by the world.

Since the end of the Cold War, the G7 has expanded to the G8 with full membership for Russia and a united Germany taking the place of West Germany. Its agenda covers political as well as economic issues, giving the group the charisma of an all-round fixer of the world's problems.

However, almost each year since 2003, the G8 has been inviting the five major developing countries to its summits for dialogue.

The willingness of the major industrialized nations to enter into dialogue with or consider admitting the five developing nations into the exclusive club reflects, most importantly, the growing economic weight of these developing nations.

Brazil, China, India and Russia, dubbed the "Bric" nations, have witnessed rapid economic growth in recent years.

China is already the fourth largest economy in the world, while Brazil is not far behind Canada in terms of GDP. According to UN statistics, "Bric" nations accounted for more than 50 percent of growth in terms of purchasing power of currencies in the past five years.

As these nations become one of the main engines of the world economy, their global influence cannot be neglected, experts point out.

Also, nations are becoming increasingly interdependent in a globalized world, and problems such as global warming, oil and food price hikes, and terrorism cannot be solved by a single nation or a single group alone.

Sylvie Matelly, a scholar from France's Institute of International Strategic Relations, says the impact of the HokkaidoG8 summit would be relatively limited without the participation of the five developing countries, which are becoming progressively important global players.

It is compulsory and feasible for developed and developing countries to launch dialogue and cooperate in economic fields as their economies become more interdependent, Matelly says.

It is important for the G8 to hold dialogue with major developing countries, concurred Ted Carpenter, vice president of defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, a non-profit public policy research foundation headquartered in Washington, D.C.

This dialogue mechanism suggests a reaching-out by the G8 to other important players in the international system, Carpenter said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"It's very important to coordinate understanding between these countries," says Alexander Neill, head of the Asia Program in London's Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies.

But such dialogue should be held on an equal footing and marked by mutual trust. It should not become an excuse for the major industrialized nations to shirk their responsibilities, Neill reiterates.


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