Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] An agenda for a G-12

The G-12 will have to widen their agenda and go beyond the purely economic issues to include climate change, health care and human rights.
By IASToppers
June 05, 2020


  • Introduction
  • G-7 group
  • Declining relevance of G-7
  • Exclusion of China
  • Defining an Agenda
  • Embracing Multilateralism
  • Conclusion

An agenda for a G-12

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The US President Donald Trump has termed the G-7 group of countries as outdated with a need to enlarge its membership. He has proposed to include India, Russia, South Korea, and Australia in the group. The thinking on the need to enlarge the membership of the club of “free market democracies”, is the realisation of the potential of Asia in the changing world dynamics.

G-7 group:

  • G-7 is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 by the top economies of the time as an informal forum to discuss pressing world issues.
  • The countries in the group are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • The G-7 forum has deliberated about several challenges over the decades, such as the oil crashes of the 1970s, and many pressing issues such as financial crises, terrorism, arms control, and drug trafficking.
  • The G-7 was known as the ‘G-8’ for several years after the original seven were joined by Russia in 1997.
  • The Group returned to being called G-7 after Russia was expelled as a member in 2014 following the latter’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
  • The G-7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters and the decisions taken by leaders during annual summits are non-binding.

Declining relevance of G-7:

  • The G-7 no longer dominates the global economy as they did at their founding.
  • The rise of India, China, and Brazil over the past few decades has reduced the G-7’s relevance, whose share in global GDP has now fallen to around 40%.
  • The advantage of getting Russia in is that the group would not be viewed merely as an anti-China gang-up but, in fact, as a club of “free market democracies”.
  • The group could easily be made the G-12 with the inclusion of Indonesia — one of the few democratic nations in the Islamic world.

Exclusion of China:

  • Trump’s motivation in expanding the G-7 to include India and Russia while keeping China out is transparent.
  • There are good reasons why Xi Jinping’s China requires to be put on notice for its various acts of omission and disrespect for international law.
  • The new group should not be viewed as yet another group to isolate China.
  • Everyone wants China to be disciplined, Asia needs a law-abiding China.
  • Even Japan and Australia, which have serious concerns about China’s behaviour, may not like the new group to be viewed purely as an anti-China gang-up.
  • India has more issues with China than most others in the group, spanning across economic and national security issues and yet it should seek a disciplined China, not an isolated one.

Defining an Agenda:

  • The G-7 came into being in the mid-1970s against the background of shocks to the global financial and energy markets.
  • The G-12 would come into being against the background of a global economic crisis and the disruption to global trade caused both by protectionism and a pandemic.
  • The summit agenda should be towards response to the COVID-19, the rising tide of protectionism, mercantilism and the global economic slowdown.
  • The summit will have to come forward with some international dos and don’ts to deal with the challenge posed by these disruptions.
  • The proposed new group should define its agenda in terms that would encourage China to return to the pre-Xi era of global good behaviour.

Embracing Multilateralism:

  • The G-12 will have to widen their agenda and go beyond the purely economic issues that the G-7 originally focused on to include climate change, health care and human rights.
  • In identifying themselves as free market democracies, the G-12 must issue a new charter of respect for human rights, adherence to international law and multilateralism in trade and security.
  • The US will have to reassure the members that its combined interests in proposing a new group is beyond just an “America First” policy.
  • Even as the world is increasingly wary of an assertive China and of Xi Jinping’s China Dream and his version of a “China First” policy, it is also wary of Trump’s unilateralism on many fronts.
  • While many countries share Trump’s displeasure with China for its manipulation of the World Health Organisation, many of them are equally unhappy with the manner in which the Trump administration has treated the World Trade Organisation.
  • A G-12 cannot ignore such partisan behaviour by either the US or any other member.
  • The new members should seek clarity on the terms of membership.


The invitation of Trump to India is the realisation of a new world order which is inclusive, shifting from the much hyped West. As the world’s largest free market democracy India deserves to be a member of not just a G-12 but of even a new G-7. India’s political and economic credentials are certainly stronger than those of Canada, Britain and Italy. Indeed, Russia, Australia, South Korea and even Indonesia may regard themselves as natural choices for membership of an expanded G-7.

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