This year’s World Economic Forum is celebrated as an exclusive gathering of the world’s politicians, business moguls and opinion leaders.
They were assembled to share their ideas for a better global economy. Conferences like these are a talking shop where mindsets are influenced, policies refined, promises made, deals agreed and opportunities realised.
The venue for this important conference is Davos, a small town in the Swiss Alps known for its ski resorts and breathtaking sceneries. This remote location will enable world leaders to focus on the global economic challenges without any distractions.
This year the challenges and opportunities could not be more contrasting. Dominating the discussion was the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, United States Presidential appointment and the Chinese President’s speech on globalization.
Prime Minister Thersa May’s speech in Davos makes it clear: post Brexit Britain was open for business as a new Europe emerges. The Prime Minister will visit the new US president as the first female leader to negotiate a trade deal. As the UK forges a new economic future, negotiating trade deals with the rest of world will most likely be under World Trade Organisation rules.
Political vagueness is usually associated with the 3rd world countries, but today’s uncertainties are in European countries. British companies like Lloyds are keen to remain competitive. If they are to continue selling insurance to European Union citizens, they will have to set up licensing agreement via a subsidiary company in an EU country.
As businesses adjust to the new realities throughout the EU; the choices could not be more real. Companies will have to accept and work within the confines of the new economic realities.
The world economic conference coincided with the swearing in of Donald Trump as President of the US. The cold Atlantic winds from America could not have been chillier. Its crosswinds were felt in Davos as President Trump ushered in a new era of economic uncertainty.
It was going to be America first on all aspects of trade and commerce. This inward looking nationalistic approach calls for protectionism; and it attacks international competition at the expense of fair trade. The US had for the first time in a generation turned its back on the free market economy and abandoned globalization.
The Chinese delegation in Davos was lead for the very first time by President Xi Jinping. This was the first time a Chinese president was speaking at the forum. His message was in sharp contrast to that of the US. President Xi Jinping’s speech called for fostering and promotion of globalization, citing that the free market economy was a force for good. In an interconnected world the solution was to expanding and embracing globalization.
President Xi Jinping said “protectionism was like being locked up in a dark room” and “trade war had no winners”. The way forward for global economic growth and prosperity was to restore globalization.
President Xi Jinping’s free market speech was received positively by Davos; ushering a new phase of Chinese transparency and openness. China is keen to trade and foster business opportunities with the world.
For the first time in world economic forum history, an eastern president commanded the stage advocating to western leaders the need for fair trade.