Fox News has learned in a surprising late-night twist, on the eve of the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, that President Obama will announce Friday morning a significant expansion of the consortium of countries that tackle global economic and climate change issues.
Mr. Obama will tell reporters that the G20, comprised of 19 industrial and emerging-market countries plus the European Union, will supplant the smaller Group of Eight nations, G8, as the go-to group for solving the world’s economic ills.
“This decision brings to the table the countries needed to build a stronger, more balanced global economy, reform the financial system, and lift the lives of the poorest,” the White House said in a statement.
The G8 will retain its national security focus, but be replaced by the broader G20 on the issues of climate change, financial regulatory reform and global imbalances.
President Obama pressed for the change at the last G8 Summit in Italy, expressing his displeasure at the unwieldy array of G8 meeting variations.
Mr. Obama said, "There is no doubt that we have to update and refresh and renew the international institutions that were set up in a different time and place. What I've noticed is everybody wants the smallest possible group, the smallest possible organization, that includes them. So, if they're the 21st largest nation in the world, they want the G-21, and think it's highly unfair if they have been cut out."
Though the news itself was an unexpected turn, the reasoning behind it was written in the tea leaves Thursday when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner sang the praises of broadened global cooperation; making special note of the strides China, a non-G8 country, has made in financial reforms. The more inclusive approach will allow countries such as Brazil, China, and India, who have griped about not being part of the G8, to now have a bigger stake in strengthening global cooperation and economic stability. President Obama also supported their inclusion, noting fewer meetings would be more effective.
The G-20 started ten years ago as a group of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from industrialized and developing economies, but has involved Heads of State Summits, such as the one taking place Friday.
The G8’s members are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The European Commission attends as well.
*Major Garrett contributed to this story.