Group of Seven (G7), international organization officially established in 1985 to facilitate economic cooperation among the world's largest industrial nations; summit meetings of the member nations began in 1975. Members are Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States. Representatives of the European Commission also have attended G7 meetings since 1981. The G7 discusses and coordinates its members' actions on economic and commercial matters and works to aid the economies of other nations. The leaders of the G7 nations meet annually in member countries. The Group of Eight (G8), which consists of the G7 nations plus Russia, was officially established in 1998, although Russia began participating in some G7 meetings earlier in the 1990s. G7 nations continued to meet without Russia on certain issues.
Emerging nations had long complained that their interests were not addressed during the G7 meetings; these concerns resulted in the first meeting (1999) of the newly formed Group of Twenty (G20), with the G8 nations plus Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey participating. Initially involving only finance ministers and the heads of central banks, the organization brought together industrial and emerging-market countries to discuss issues related to global economic stability. The G20 conferences included national leaders for the first time in 2008 amid the world financial crisis and recession, and in 2009 G20 leaders announced plans for the G20 to replace its predecessors as the main forum for global economic policy, reflecting the increased economic importance of China and other emerging-market nations. The G8, though superseded on economic issues, would continue to focus on noneconomic ones, such as those relating to security.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.