Loose Political Collaborations

Loose political collaborations are formed to promote the economic, political and security interests shared by their members.

When groups of countries collaborate to promote their interests, they increase the political and economic power that they can exert.  They can project power across the whole world if they are collectively big enough – as in the examples of the G20 and the G7:

●  As already mentioned (3.4.4), the G20 plays an economic role – but it also provides a forum for global leaders.  The BBC report on 30 November 2018, on G20 Argentina “with any number of disputes and disagreements on the table”, gave an indication of its scale: “The G20, made up of 19 of the world’s most industrialised nations plus the EU, accounts for 85% of the world’s economic output and two-thirds of the world’s population.”  It also enables leaders to make political announcements and it gives them opportunities for private one-on-one sessions.

●  The G7 is similar in purpose to the G20 but with fewer countries, all of whom are wealthy democracies: America, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.  It was previously called the G8, but since 2014 it has excluded Russia following the latter’s annexation of the Crimea.  It also excludes the ‘developing economies’ of China, India and Brazil -and Brazil.  It accounts for over 30% of global GDP, but this proportion is declining according to a report: Share of global gross domestic product from G7 and G20 countries in 2017 and projections for 2022.  It has been the scene of angry confrontations between Western leaders, as in 2018 when a BBC headline read G7 summit: Donald Trump lashes out at America’s key allies.

China and Russia have worked together to form their own loose political collaborations, as a counterweight to western domination.  They are in several overlapping groupings:

●  The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a group of 15 Asia-Pacific countries [which] form world’s largest trading bloc. It includes both Australia and Japan, both of whom are G20 members, as described earlier (5.4.5).  It reportedly accounted for almost 30% of world trade when it was formed, and that proportion is growing.  It is not yet fully mature as a trading bloc, and it is not yet exerting much political influence – but it certainly will do, if only in combating economic sanctions imposed by the G7.

●  The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), whose membership is growing, was overtly political from the outset. Russia has used it as a platform for defiance against the West in its war in Ukraine, for example.

●  The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have also agreed to collaborate. In August 2023, according to Reuters, the group agreed to expand:

“The BRICS bloc of developing nations agreed on Thursday to admit Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates in a move aimed at accelerating its push to reshuffle a world order it sees as outdated.

In deciding in favour of an expansion – the bloc’s first in 13 years – BRICS leaders left the door open to future enlargement as dozens more countries voiced interest in joining a grouping they hope can level the global playing field.

… But long-standing tensions could linger between members who want to forge the grouping into a counterweight to the West – notably China, Russia and now Iran – and those that continue to nurture close ties to the United States and Europe.”

All these loose political collaborations affect international trade (3.5.4), and they can also affect foreign policy – as described later (6.7.7).  The West’s collaborations are more mature, but those who oppose the West have a lot of economic power and they are weakening its dominance.


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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/6663a.htm.