Background on the G8

By Andrew Coffman-Smith

What is the G8?

The G8 – short for Group of Eight – is a self-described “club of leading industrialised nations” whose head of states meet annually to discuss economic matters and synchronise national policies.

What countries are members?

Originally formed in 1975 by the United Kingdom, United States, France, Germany, Italy and Japan; the forum now includes Canada, which joined in 1976, and Russia since 1998.

The European Union is also represented at G8 meetings by both the president of the European Commission and the president of the European Council.

The agenda-setting G8 presidency is annually rotated among the member states (apart from the EU) and this year the UK holds that responsibility.

What leading countries are excluded?

While the G8 members collectively account for 14 per cent of the world’s population and over 60 per cent of the global economic output, the second, and seventh and ninth largest economies in terms of Gross Domestic Product –that is, China, Brazil and India – are not members.

Who will be attending the 2013 summit in Enniskillen?

P.M. David Cameron (UK)

Pres. Barack Obama (US)

Pres. Vladimir Putin (Russia)

Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany)

Pres. Francois Hollande (France)

P.M. Enrico Letta (Italy)

P.M. Shinzo Abe (Japan)

P.M. Stephen Harper (Canada)

Pres. José Manuel Barroso (European Commission)

Pres. Herman Van Rompuy (European Council)

What is on the agenda at the Enniskillen summit?

Stopping tax evading, creating transparency and supporting free trade are on top of the G8 agenda as set by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Other topics will include the Syrian Civil War, the threat of North Korea, combating terrorism and expanding trade in Africa.

Taxes, transparency and trade:

“Low taxes are only sustainable if what is owed is actually paid,” Mr Cameron said in a speech laying out the G8 agenda last month.

“We simply cannot have the situation where a small business is working hard to pay taxes but unable to compete fairly with rivals playing the system to avoid tax. Laying down the rules of the game and being prepared to enforce them is a vital foundation for open economies, low taxes and free enterprise.”

With the recent tax avoidance scandals of numerous multinational corporations, the UK’s main priority is to get countries to agree to not only enforcing corporate rates currently on the law-books but also sharing information between governments to put an end to off shore accounts and shell companies.

Experts believe the identifying of bank accounts and corporations’ real owners and full disclosure of corporate profits and overseas taxes could uncover up to $20 trillion hidden away if these initiatives are internationally enforced.

© The Detail 2013