From G8 to G20: Towards Global Governance? Part III
With its oil economy, Norway is among the “bypassed” based on GDP measured in current dollars, and on this list we also find Sweden and Denmark. Sweden is also in the top 10 list for trade, and here we find Denmark and Norway a little further down the list (in 11th and 15th place). Based on trade and GDP, the Nordic countries could thus rightly claim to be important enough. The problem is that we are not the only ones in the queue: Spain is high on several of the lists and also has a larger population; The same can be said about Poland, and Belgium and the Netherlands together are as weighty as the Nordic countries.
Since Europe is already solidly represented in the G20, it is highly likely that a number of populous developing countries would be at the forefront of the queue. For example, Indonesia is the only ASEAN country in the G20, and Africa is represented only by South Africa. Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia and Egypt are countries that could argue with weight to join.
If the G20 were to be made even more representative, the number of countries would therefore have to be increased not only by one or two, but by several – perhaps as many as ten countries. It might be a good idea, because it would remedy the bias as the G20 is a bit randomly composed, and one could get an even better steering forum. According to CITYPOPULATIONREVIEW, the G20 countries argue that the number of members must be limited to ensure action. This is probably true, but it does not mean that 20 is the magic number.
Experience from the UN, and more recently also the WTO, shows that if all the countries of the world are to participate, the processes that will lead to decisions become cumbersome and often almost impossible. As a result of globalization, more international governance is needed, and we need institutions that take care of this with the greatest possible representativeness. The G20 is more democratic than the G8, and it is a clear step forward to include the largest developing countries, but the G20 is still a self-appointed and not entirely representative group.
6: G20 or G2?
G2 is a term for the dialogue between the United States and China; launched by some researchers, politicians and journalists. But G2 is not a formalized group – it is a normal bilateral connection between countries. The more important China becomes, the more important the connection between these two becomes. With 27 members, the EU is a more cumbersome grouping that can not easily turn around when needed, and this makes it possible for other countries to take the initiative.
The extent to which this will happen is more uncertain: the United States is bound by domestic interest groups (unions, financial interests, etc.) and concerns, and Obama cannot go against those who have elected him. China has a constructive but somewhat cautious attitude towards the global system and is unlikely to appear as a major reformer at first. Although China is becoming increasingly important, the idea of G2 is currently a bit contrived and more virtual than real.
What is real, however, is that there are major differences between the countries in the G20 in terms of importance in the world economy. India has experienced rapid economic growth over the past decade and is now often mentioned in the same breath as China. This is true in relation to the population, but not at all in relation to the economy. India is still a small player there. The figure to the left shows the size of India together with the USA, Japan, China and Germany, and Norway is included for the sake of comparison.
India is a large country in terms of population, but less impressive in terms of economy. GDP for India is well below half of China’s level. For trade, it is only a few years since India surpassed Norway in size – with a population that in 2006 was 238 times larger. Despite ambitious goals, it is therefore a long way to go before India becomes a super heavyweight in the world economy. In this sense, the discussion about G2 is useful in emphasizing that China and India are different in this context.
Norway – with almost five million inhabitants – will probably have to wait before we get to the most exclusive Gs, even as part of a Nordic group (total population close to 25 million). In the meantime, we must work in other international fora, which in any case make many of the decisions in areas that are also discussed in the G20. In the long run, it would have been good with reforms that safeguard action power, but which also contribute to an even more democratic world system.