DAVOS, Switzerland — The Group of 20 leading rich and emerging nations should consider ways to give representation to around 170 countries that are left out, France's finance minister said Friday.
France holds the presidency of the G-20, which has been criticized for failing to include the voices of many nations — developed, developing and poor.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told a news conference at the World Economic Forum that one possibility is to include a number of countries in one seat and rotate membership — as the International Monetary Fund's Executive Board does.
"We need to keep our objective of an efficient G-20 that continues to be credible, and in a way there is a dichotomy between the two," she said.
Lagarde said the group's meetings now include not only the 20 members, but five invited guests, which is "already quite a number" of leaders at the table.
The G-20 members are South Africa, Canada, Mexico, United States, Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Australia and the European Union.
At the last summit in Seoul in November, the five invited countries were Ethiopia which chaired NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development; Vietnam which chaired the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; Malawi which chaired the African Union; Spain, one of the world's 10 largest economies, and the Netherlands, the 16th largest economy.
"To be efficient you need to have a closed circle," Lagarde said. "Equally, to be credible it has to be representative. and only having 25 nations is considered illegitimate or lacking representation by those 170 that are left out."
Lagarde said French President Nicolas Sarkozy alluded to a possible way to "close the gap between efficiency which requires a small number, and credibility that requires the representativeness of a much larger community."
In his address to the forum Wednesday, Sarkozy referred to the 25 participants at the G-20 summit but said he also referred to "24."
Lagarde reminded reporters that this is the size of the IMF Executive Board which has operated since its inception on the basis of chairs for major economic powers and chairs for groups of countries whose board participant rotates.
The U.S., Japan, Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia currently have seats on the IMF board, but the rest rotate among different groups.
"Clearly, there must be consideration given to that interesting similarity between 25 on the one hand and 24 on the other," Lagarde said, "and that might be a key to this dichotomy between efficiency and credibility."Copyright © 2010 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.