G-20 and International Economic Cooperation: Background and Implications for Congress [December 9, 2009] [open pdf - 509KB]
"Governments discuss and coordinate economic policies using a mix of formal institutions, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and more informal economic forums, like the Group of Seven, or G-7, and the Group of 20, or G-20. This report focuses on informal economic forums, and, specifically, the role of the G-20 in coordinating governments' responses to the current economic crisis. The members of the G-7 are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The G-20 includes the G-7 members plus Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and the European Union (EU). Since the mid-1970s, leaders from the G-7, a small group of developed countries, have gathered annually to discuss and coordinate financial and economic policies. Large emerging-market economies such as China started to have more sway in financial markets in the 1990s, and the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998 showed that emerging markets were too important to exclude from international economic discussions. The G-20 was formed in 1999 as an opportunity for finance ministers and central bank governors from both developed and emerging-market countries to discuss financial issues. The G-20 remained a less prominent forum than the G-7, as it involved meetings among finance ministers while the G-7 sessions also involved summit meetings among heads of governments or heads of state."
CRS Report for Congress, R40977
United States. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers, Bureau of Public Affairs: http://www.fpc.state.gov/