Berlin: China and India once waited for crumbs from the table of the world’s wealthiest nations but at the G8 summit in Germany this week, the two rapidly growing economies will be dining as near equals.
When Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes the heads of the Group of Eight nations to the northern German resort of Heiligendamm on 6 June, they will be joined by the leaders of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.
G8 leaders will especially want to hear what Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have to say on the vexed issues of climate change and world trade.
Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, said the Group of Eight “are being forced to recognize these new emerging powers.”
International economic reports like those by Goldman Sachs and others say that the Chinese economy definitely and the Indian economy possibly will overtake that of the United States quite soon.
The perception is that the invites to India, China and Brazil are a recognition of that global clout. It is also a recognition of the fact that the West will have to share power with new emerging centres.
The so-called G8 plus five process formally began at the 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair invited heads of the five emerging economies to participate in the talks.
With a combined population of 2.4 billion people, China and India are huge, export-hungry markets for the world’s biggest exporters such as Germany.
And as their burgeoning economies consume more coal and natural resources, any future global agreement on limiting global warming would be fatally flawed without their participation.
China’s stunning economic growth has been achieved at a terrible cost to its environment. Though it unveiled its long-awaited national strategy for addressing climate change, economic development is their number one priority. Beijing also insisted it would not commit to any caps on greenhouse gas emissions.
Merkel on the other hand has vowed to use the summit to urge her G8 counterparts to sign up to mandatory limits on emissions. She said that the consequences of restricting development of developing nations will be much more serious than the consequences of global warming,” Ma Kai, China’s top economic planner, told journalists on Monday.
Uday Bhaskar, an independent Indian analyst, said the fact that the G8 was making space at the negotiating table for newcomers is a formal recognition that the current G8 lineup - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - fails to reflect the direction in which the world is moving.
“The emerging hexagon of relevant powers of this century are the US, EU and Japan at level one and Russia, China and India on level two,” he added. Clearly, the invitation (to the emerging economies) is a formal acknowledgement of that view.