What is the G8?

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  • Written By: David White
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2018
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The Group of Eight (G8) is an economic and political organization designed to bring about discussion and effect change among the world's most powerful nations. It includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Although the leaders of these countries keep in touch to varying degrees anyway, they meet as the G8 summit once a year in order to discuss the state of world economics and politics.

The group has a nominal presidency, and the holder of that office is different every year, with the post rotating throughout the membership, so that the leader of one country is also the G8 president for a year. The organization has no headquarters, budget, or permanent staff. The country that holds the presidency is the host country for the summit of that year and has the responsibility for paying for all costs associated with it. In recent years, security has required a hefty price tag.


The summit usually takes place in the middle of the calendar year, and it consists of three days of sometimes intense, very high-level talks between all eight leaders. Meetings between lower-level officials take place at various times leading up to the high-level summit. Topics of discussion at G8 summits have historically included controversial issues, such as global warming, Third World debt, Middle East peace, economic policy and conversation, and terrorism. Protests of one or more countries' policies usually accompany the summits. Sometimes, these protests get more coverage than the summits themselves.

Economic policy and conversation is at the root of the G8. The mid-1970s oil crisis shook the economics of the world's largest countries, and at the urging of then-French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing, the leaders of all the current members of the G8, except Canada and Russia, met to discuss how to respond to the oil crisis. This was in 1975, and the group's original name was the Library Group. It was soon changed to G6.

Canada joined the group the very next year, making it the G7. Russia joined in 1991, after the fall of communism in that country. The fall of communism in Germany also meant that the official delegation from that country was all-inclusive, not just representing West Germany, as had been the case when the Library Group first convened.


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Post 9

You know that the reason that the economy is going down is because we've been fools and have wasted our money. Now we're trillions and trillions of debt and we are probably going to shut the government if we don't raise the debt thing higher. We were God's nation, but do see how far we've fallen? It's complete madness!

Post 4

The G8 should ban pigeons!

Post 3

What about all those world leaders who were not able to save the Ethiopian people from the poverty? One side of the world has a luxurious life and is wasting food.

At the same time, people --including children -- are dying due to the poverty. What we can do? Think about it and announce the story and photos to the each corner of the world. --praveen

Post 2

@ Georgesplane- I wonder if the G-20 will take up the issue of reserve currencies at their Seoul Summit in November 2010. At the end of June, the United Nations released a report claiming the U.S. dollar is partially to blame for the global economic meltdown because it is not a stable store of value.

The report suggested using special drawing rights (SDR) as a replacement. An SDR is a value expressed in U.S. dollars, but based on a ratio of the four dominant currencies (The Yen, Euro, USD, and British Pound).

What baffles me is how the U.N thinks this will work. The SDR was the major reserve value proposed under the fixed currency system created at Bretton

Woods. We all know what happened to this in 1979...Bretton Woods collapsed. Why would they propose a flawed currency?

I hope the G-20 tackles this issue at the Seoul Summit. I feel that most of the countries would agree that the market should decide the global reserve currency. Probably the only country to dissent would be China, but their currency is not free floating anyway.

Post 1

At the end of 2009, the G-20 replaced the G-8 as the major council on international economic affairs. The G-8 will still meet to discuss certain measures, but these will be mostly to discuss certain details pertaining to economic security.

This new G-20 group will include many of the world's fastest developing economies in addition to the countries represented by the G-8. These developing economies have become contributors to the overall global economy and it is important to include them in economic summits.

The reason the G-8 expanded was that the top 20 economies contribute about 90 percent of the total global economic output. Cooperation between all of these economies is necessary to navigate the complexities of managing the global economy.

The additional countries admitted to the G-20 include Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey, India, Australia, and the rotating council president of the European Union.

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