December 26, 2005

Spain should push for G8 membership: thinktank

By Adrian Croft

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain should push to be a member of the
Group of Eight (G8) club of leading economies now that its
output has surpassed that of G8 member Canada, an influential
Spanish thinktank said on Monday.

The Financial Studies Foundation presented a study setting
out Spain's credentials to be part of the G8 at a meeting of
its board, which includes some of Spain's top business

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the
foundation's honorary chairman, also attended.

"The Financial Studies Foundation will support Spain's
presence in the Group of Eight most industrialized
countries...," the group said in a statement.

The World Bank's 2004 ranking of countries by Gross
Domestic Product, released in July, showed Spain had overtaken
Canada to become the world's eighth-biggest economy.

Spain's economy, in its 12th year of uninterrupted growth,
produced just under $1 trillion of output in 2004, according to
the World Bank figures. China's sharp upwards revision of its
output last week still left Spain in the eighth slot.

The G8 includes the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain,
France, Italy, Canada and Russia.

The study, directed by University of Navarre professor Luis
Ravina, said Spain met the requirements to enter the G8 and
that Spain's presence in international financial bodies should
increase significantly, in line with its international weight.

"Access to the G8 and other groups of countries must be a
constant demand of Spain," Ravina said.

However, he noted, "it's clear that clubs tend to want to
have few members with rights."


The study points out that the main obstacle to Spain
joining the G8 is that its membership would not make the group
more representative at a world level.

Since four European Union members (Britain, France, Germany
and Italy) already belong to the G8, the United States and
Japan would oppose Spain, another EU member, joining, it said.

There was also the argument that the euro zone -- of which
Spain, France, Germany and Italy are members -- should speak
with a single voice, it said.

Short of individual membership, Spain's influence in
international groupings should be increased through euro zone
representation in such groups, the study said.

In his speech to the foundation, Zapatero did not say
whether he supported Spanish membership of the G8.

But he noted that the emergence of new economic powers in
the last 15 years had made the Group of Seven (the G8 without
Russia) less relevant.

He said important new international groups were taking
shape, such as the G20, which includes the G8 countries,
leading developing nations such as China, India and Brazil, and
the EU. The G20 accounts for nearly 90 percent of world output,
he said.

"Spain must be an active member of the new world that is
being created. Spain needs ideas and thoughts on the role we
must play in the world and on the kind of institutions we need
and want," Zapatero added.