A senior adviser to President Biden proposed expanding the Group of 7 (G7) to the Group of 9 on Thursday, adding Australia and South Korea to the set of Western diplomatic allies.
Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, argued that adding the two nations to the group would help balance against the rising BRICS alliance, an effort bringing together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“While the United States has strong — and indeed strengthening — relations with key BRICS members, such as India and Brazil, the addition of more nations to a group dominated by Russia and China raises the question: Shouldn’t the democratic free-market countries try to grow their team as well?” Klain argued in an essay published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The G7 includes the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan. The European Union is an observing member.
The members of the G7 have stayed the same since the group was founded in 1975 amidst the Cold War. But Klain said an increased focus on China means expansion in the Pacific is in America’s interest.
“The two largest economies by [gross domestic product] that are neither BRICS members nor existing G7 members are South Korea and Australia, both of which would be excellent additions,” he said.
“The G7 has served the United States and the world well for fifty years. But the world has changed, and so too should this elite grouping,” he said. “Let’s strengthen this platform for democratic free-market nations by adding South Korea and Australia and making it a G9.”
Klain’s idea isn’t completely new. In 2020, former President Trump proposed making it the G10 with South Korea, Australia and India, even inviting Russia to one of the group’s meetings. India has since aligned more closely with Russia and China via BRICS.
In recent months, the diplomatic alliance has been focused on climate change as well as backing for the Ukrainian war effort. The group last met in Japan in May.
On Wednesday, the G7 echoed the Biden administration in calls for “humanitarian pauses” in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza in order to assist civilians. The Israeli military agreed to 4-hour pauses Thursday.