G8 club on its way out, says former president

4th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - With China and India excluded and the annual summit too often turned into a media show, the Group of Eight club of wealthy nations is quickly becoming irrelevant, former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing said.

PARIS, June 4, 2007 (AFP) - With China and India excluded and the annual summit too often turned into a media show, the Group of Eight club of wealthy nations is quickly becoming irrelevant, former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing said.

Leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States head to the German seaside resort of Heiligendamm for the 33rd summit of the world's most advanced economies, starting on Wednesday.

"When they go their separate ways, the members of the Group should ask themselves whether the institution has a future," Giscard said in an editorial published in Les Echos financial daily on Monday.

"How much longer will it last?  Surely one or two decades. But when the GNP of China and India will have surpassed those of all G8 members except the United States and possibly Japan (...) it would be good to search for a more appropriate format for world economic management," wrote the former president.

Founded in 1975 as the Group of Seven at a time when Russia was part of the Soviet Union, the G7 provided an informal forum for leaders to discuss economic policy. Russia joined in 1998.

Giscard, who was president from 1974 to 1981, said leaders at the first G7 summits turned up with delegations of no more than three people, allowing all participants to fit in one room and engage in frank discussion away from the media glare.

The former leader lamented that at Heiligendamm, some leaders will have some 2,000 staff in tow, saying there is "little chance that they will have the privacy and frankness needed to make these types of meetings useful."

Still, the economic clout of the Group of Eight is indisputable. Together they represent 63 percent of the world's GNP and 50 percent of world trade of goods, he wrote.

Giscard said the G8 should not bring in rising economic powers China, India or Brazil as new members, but argued that the club should return to its roots, as an informal gathering of leaders to exchange views.

At Heiligendamm, the G8 will not take any decisions but the club can provide certain "clarifications" on climate change, world economic imbalances and development aid, he added.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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