The inaugural meeting of the Group of 20 took place in Berlin on 15-16 Dec 1999, hosted by German and Canadian finance ministers. The year has seen two summits of G20 leaders in search of a global response to the economic meltdown. The year has also seen the G20, which groups leading industrialized countries with major emerging markets, overtaking the G7-G8 as the top financial forum. The issue of the moment -- with no consensus on what must be done -- is the expansion of global economic governance.
Another point of contention is the introduction of a global levy, under which banks would be required to "make a fair and substantial contribution" toward bailouts. Pressure for the option is building partly because imposing individual taxes at a national level is seen as potentially counterproductive. No country wants to hurt the international competitiveness of its banks by burdening them with a major new tax that overseas rivals do not face. France, Germany and Great Britain favor exploring a global tax. The G20 brings together Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the rotating European Union presidency. The G20 represents some 90 per cent of the world's wealth, 80 per cent of world trade and two-thirds of the world's population, according to a statement after G20 talks in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 2009.
Date written/update: 2009-12-15