Grouping of Nations

Many countries have organised themselves into groups that have worked to in various ways toprotect and enhance their domestic economies, their social status and level of development.The best known of these are:

G8 (formerly G7)

The grouping of the richest nations in the world, whose leaders meet at regular intervals.Members are: Japan, Germany France, Italy, USA, UK, Canada and Russia.The EuropeanUnion has observer status.

European Union (formerly the European Community)

Began with the 1957 Treaty of Rome and an original six members (France, Italy, Belgium,Netherlands, Luxembourg and West Germany). Expanded gradually to incorporate another27 members by 2007.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

NAFTA came into effect in 1994 with the objective of eliminating most tariffs and otherrestrictions on trade and investments between the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

ASEAN developed from the old SEATO anti-communist grouping in 1967 with five originalmembers – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The other countriesthat have joined since are Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Its objectives are toaccelerate economic growth and social progress, and to promote regional peace and stability.

Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

A powerful cartel that represents the interests of oil exporters and sets quotas in order to controlthe price of oil. Members include Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar,Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

There are also a number of organisations that attempt to regulate development:

World Trade Organisation (WTO) which replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT) and has far greater power to arbitrate in trade disputes than its predecessor.

WTO essentially exists to promote free trade.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which is a grouping ofthe richer nations whose aim is to raise and maintain living standards in its members countriesand also within non-member countries.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) which was formerly knownas the World Bank. Its purpose is to aid development, but it is often treated with suspicion bydeveloping countries.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is similar to IBRD in its aims.