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13 July 2022, Gateway House

The G7 woos the global south

The G7 has reached out to emerging economies which have, of late, been facing challenges on the economic front, brought on by the lingering pandemic and the mismanagement of the Ukraine crisis. They are also seeking, from the global south, a broader acceptance of their world view. Will it be forthcoming?

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Last month, leaders of the developed world convened in Bavaria, Germany, for the G7 Summit in a turbulent geopolitical setting. For this global forum, dubbed as the “club” of the world’s wealthy economies, the focus for this year’s summit was unusually political and distracted by recent developments in Ukraine. 


As anticipated, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine overshadowed the summit which was chaired by Germany. The members’ agenda – Canada, France, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, the U.S. – and the EU were predetermined and fixed on punishing Russia. As a result, the summit largely mirrored a West-anchored anti-Russia narrative, with additional sanctions on the defence and technology sectors and new restrictions on gold imports[1]


This year, like previous summits, the G7 made efforts to reach out to emerging economies which have, of late, been facing challenges on the economic front, brought on by the lingering pandemic and the mismanagement of the Ukraine crisis. Ironically, this year’s agenda was, Progress towards an equitable world[2], focusing on jointly tackling global challenges. The participation of the global south was important, and the reasons therefore can be examined through three dimensions.


First, the geopolitics around Ukraine has been a significant factor for the G7 to appeal to the global south, now more than ever. Since the beginning of the conflict, the West has been rallying behind the Ukrainian cause, even pressuring other countries to follow suit. Most countries from the global south have shown little interest in joining with the G7 either in condemning Russia or supporting sanctions, keeping their strategic interest at the forefront. 


The grouping invited five developing countries – Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal, and South Africa – as guests to the summit. Each country was invited, considering a specific agenda. For example, Senegal was invited as Chair of the African Union, a means to reach out to Africa, given the growing anti-West sentiment being observed across the continent for targeting Russia[3]and the food crisis. 


Second, the rise of the G20 as a global forum has virtually challenged the G7’s superior position, especially when half the world is polarised from the West over Russia. Being a mix of both developing and developed countries, the G20 has naturally received visibility in the global south. It is seen as a credible alternative to the G7 the G20 was created when the G7 (G8 back then) failed to deliver during the 2008 economic crisis. 


Again, this year, the G20’s role as a diverse multilateral forum is crucial for addressing economic recovery in the global south[4]. The G7 therefore was keen to bridge relations with G20 countries[5], which was reflected in four of the six invitees being members of the G20. Indonesia and India are currently part of the G20 troika, which ensures consistency and continuity of the G20’s agenda for crisis management. The G7 used these special invitations to engage bilaterally with each of the G20 global south countries. 


Despite these efforts, the G7’s entrenched biases prevailed, with their continuous pressure on current G20 President Indonesia to expel Russia from the upcoming G20 Summit meeting.[6]. Indonesia was unmoved by external pressure and compromised by inviting Ukraine as a guest to the summit. Since all the G7 members are part of the G20 as well, they intended to use the November summit for a broader acceptance of their worldview.


Third, in the absence of China, India and South Africa’s prominence as leaders of the global south has been at the centre of the G7’s global agenda. Both countries have featured in multiple G7 summits in the past because they are responsible partners. They have championed the global south cause individually and through fora like BRICS, which sees itself as “the” global south grouping.


A perfect example is the recently concluded World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting held in Geneva. Against the interests of the West, both India and South Africa were at the helm of intense lobbying and deliberations[7] that resulted in the Geneva Package, paving the way for beneficial measures such as partial patent waivers for Covid-19 vaccines, a declaration avoiding ban on food export, and exclusion of traditional farmers from the newly charted Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries subsidy rules.[8]


India and South Africa have also refused to play along with the West in their crusade against Russia and have vigorously maintained their neutrality. Both have an ongoing trade and energy[9] relationship with Russia. 


The global south together has played an extensive role in shaping the G7’s agenda beyond Ukraine. The G7 was pushed to address four pressing matters important to developing countries. One, the G7 created a global food security alliance in the backdrop of rising food prices and scarcity, especially in the global south. Two emerging economies like India, Senegal, Indonesia, and Vietnam, were included in the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) set up to assist these countries in harnessing alternate energy. 


Three, the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), which is the G7’s counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was established with the global south in mind, particularly in geographies like Africa and the Indo-Pacific, where the BRI has had an impact. Lastly, the special invitees and the G7 members were part of the Resilient Democracies Statement, a vision document highlighting the need for strengthening democratic institutions and mechanisms worldwide.


The relevance of the global south to the G7 will only increase and a new approach is needed. For starters, instead of diverting attention to Russia, the G7 must introspect on its actions, particularly its punitive sanctions regime that has triggered economic problems, not only for the so-called free world but for the’ third world’ as well.

K.A. Dhananjay is a Researcher at Gateway House.

This article was exclusively written for Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. You can read more exclusive content here.

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[1] G7 German Presidency, “G7 announces tougher sanctions against Russia”, June 27, 2022, 

[2] G7 German Presidency, “Progress towards an equitable world”,,28%20June%20in%20Schloss%20Elmau

[3]See, Mary Blankenship and Aloysius Uche Ordu, “Russia’s narratives about its invasion of Ukraine are lingering in Africa”, Brookings, June 27, 2022, 

[4]See, Multiple Authors, “Report– Analysing India’s Economic Security Challenges”, Gateway House, June 23, 2022, 

[5] See, G7 German Presidency, “Proposals offered by the think-tanks in the run-up to the G7 Summit”, May 31, 2022, 

[6] See, “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, April 29, 2022.” The White House, April 29, 2022, 

[7] “India emerged as the voice of the Developing countries and LDCs in the recently concluded 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the WTO in Geneva, says Shri Piyush Goyal”, Press Information Bureau (PIB), June 20, 2022, 

[8] World Trade Organisation (WTO), “Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference”, June 17, 2022,; Also see, Damodar Pujari, “Can the WTO Agreement Stop Unsustainable Fishing?” Gateway House, June 30, 2022, 

[9] “Greetings to BRICS Business Forum”, President of Russia, June 22, 2022,