Davos gathering looks to address Trump and Brexit

Ashley Coates
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Davos World Economic Forum Draws Global Industry Chiefs
The World Economic Forum takes place every year in the Swiss ski resort of Davos (Source: Getty)

Prime minister Theresa May, Chinese president Xi Jinping, US vice president Joe Biden and US secretary of state John Kerry will be among the 3,000 businessmen, politicians and celebrities at the annual World Economic Forum this week.

This year, the organisers of the four day event in Switzerland have chosen “responsive and responsible leadership” as the theme of the conference, which will overlap with Trump’s inauguration on 20 January.

Their programme aims to contend with issues that last year’s attendees would barely have thought possible, with sessions looking at “the Post EU era” and "Politics of Fear or Rebellion of the Forgotten?"

The major event of the 2017 conference is the participation of Xi Jinping, who will become the first Chinese president ever to attend Davos. He is likely to speak against Donald Trump’s protectionist policies in a session focusing on “inclusive globalisation”. The Trump administration is putting up Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge-fund manager and key member of the Trump-Pence transition team.

Theresa May will deliver a speech billed as a “Special Address” in Davos, on Thursday. Her chancellor, Philip Hammond, will give a speech in a session called “Britain and the EU – the way forward” on Friday, with a focus on the challenges of global and EU migration as well as future growth and investment strategies. He will be joined on the stage by Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Monti, as well as Jes Staley, CEO at Barclays and Thorold Barker, the Wall Street Journal’s editor for EMEA.

London mayor, Sadiq Khan will also be in Davos, discussing the future of the city after Brexit during a dinner hosted by Morgan Stanley. A strong proponent of maintaining the UK’s tariff-free access to the single market, Khan is expected to tell business leaders that London remains open to international investment as well as providing his views on the future of Europe in general at an event the following day.

The forum will also host several sessions looking at how capitalism might be reformed, while others explore the “rise of populism”, the pressures on the middle class, and a session on the impact of robotics on the future jobs market.

In an overview of this year’s conference, the organisers said: “Responsive and responsible leadership requires recognising that frustration and discontent are increasing in the segments of society that are not experiencing economic development and social progress. Their situation will only become more uncertain with the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on future employment”.

There’s been some speculation that the marked absence of European leaders from the event has something to do with the event’s elitist image. The World Economic Forum has attracted criticism in recent years as a hobnobbing exercise for the “global elite” and is well known for its parties as well as its event programme.

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