With world attention focused on the G20 meeting in London, I thought it’d be a good time to share some interesting facts about the G20.
First of all, which countries comprise the G20?
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
The 20th member of the G20 is the European Union, comprised of the following countries:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
You may have noticed that France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. are essentially represented twice, with their own seats on the G20 in addition to being member of the EU. Hardly seems fair.
Notable for their abscence are such countries as Colombia, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and Venezuela.
So a total of 42 nations are represented, either directly or through the EU. These nations account for 67% of the world’s population and 46% of its land mass, not including Antarctica.
The wealthiest of these nations is, by far, Luxembourg, with per capita purchasing power parity (PPP) of $85,100. They are followed by the U.S. with per capita PPP of $48,000 and Ireland at $47,800. The poorest, by far, is India at only $2,900 followed closely by Indonesia at $3,900. Mexico’s is $14,400. Among the rest of our major trading partners, China is the poorest at $6,100. The rest are relatively wealthy with Canada at $40,300, Australia at $39,300, Germany at $34,800, Japan at $35,300, and S. Korea at $26,000.
The most densely populated nations are Malta (3,295 people per square mile), S. Korea (1,257), the Netherlands (1,010), Belgium (883), Japan (878) and India (869). The least densely populated are Australia (7), Canada (8), Russia (22), Saudi Arabia (30) and Finland (40). For reference, the U.S. has 85 people per square mile.
With the twelve nations less densely populated than the U.S., we had a trade surplus in manufactured goods of $30.9 billion in 2007. With the 29 nations more densely populated, we had a trade deficit in manufactured goods of $466 billion in 2007. (This is proof positive of the effect of population density in driving global trade imbalances.)
In per capita terms, the worst trade deficits in manfuactured goods were with Ireland (-$4,306), followed by Estonia (-$2,132), Sweden (-$860) and Japan (-$778). In per capita terms, our biggest trade surpluses in manufactured goods were with the Netherlands ($1,078), followed by Belgium ($896), Australia ($622), Canada ($510) and Saudi Arabia ($270).
The large trade surpluses with the Netherlands and Belgium are an anomaly due to the Netherlands having the only deep-water port on the Atlantic coast of Europe (except for the baltic states) and Belgium being right next door, both of them tiny countries at the cross-roads of EU commerce. The unusually large deficit with Ireland is due almost entirely to pharmaceutical manufacturing by American companies taking advantage of enormous tax breaks offered by Ireland.
The G20 meeting is focused on fixing the global financial crisis and economic melt-down. Most countries blame the U.S., though none complain about the enormous, persistent U.S. trade deficit that has propped up their own economies. The G20 is dividing into two camps – the trade surplus nations and the trade deficit nations. Both camps say they want to avoid protectionism. Both camps agree that global trade imbalances lie at the root of the economic collapse. The U.S. hopes to restore a balance by demanding that other nations like Japan, China and Germany boost their domestic consumption, making them less dependent on exports to the U.S. But the EU fears the consequences of deficit spending. The meeting promises to be a slug-fest, likely to end with nothing more than vague agreements and splits along the surplus/deficit line.