Excerpts from Davos World Economic Forum

Excerpts from Davos World Economic Forum

While the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum opened last Tuesday with the keynote speech delivered by president Xi Jinping, the first Chinese leader to attend a meeting in the temple of Western liberalism, also the following day had some twist in store. Firstly the speech delivered by the soon to be former deputy president of the United States, Joe Biden.

President Xi Jinping raised his voice in defense of globalization and free trade. Although he never overtly mentioned Trump, the newly-appointed US president was manifestly the target of some of his statements. “The end of trade wars never coincides with one victor. Practicing protectionism is like shutting oneself in a dark room: wind and rain are shut out, but so are light and air” he claimed. “While some people blame globalization for the chaos ruling the world, wars and conflicts are the real culprit”.

During his latest official speech delivered before terminating his office, the US deputy president described Russia as the most severe threat to the international liberal order and stressed that Washington must collaborate with Europe with a mind to contrasting Vladimir Putin. “Under the ruling of president Putin Russia is trying hard to undermine the heart of the European project, they are testing the weaknesses of the European nations with a mind to restoring a politics dominated by spheres of influence”, he noted. “Russia will try to interfere with the democratic process that this year will see many European countries call elections, continued Biden, and the goal is before everybody’s eyes: the collapse of the international liberal order”. Even if he never mentioned his name explicitly, he then urged Trump to respect article 5 of the Atlantic alliance (which the newly-appointed president recently defined “obsolete”), which binds the member states to abide by a “holy duty”: if any of these were attacked, it would compare to attacking all the others.

The Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Jafad Zarif about Syria: “There are no military solutions to tackle the Syrian issue. We must try to put an end to the massacre and carry on, firstly by promoting dialogue among the Syrian people. Hopefully the cease-fire is going to apply throughout the country; needless to say even if terrorist organizations, Daesh, Isis and al-Nusra, are not counted in, we hope that all the parties having undersigned the agreement, as well as the armed opposition groups and the Syrian government, will be in Astana (where the 23rd January summit about peace talks in Syria is to be held), with the firm intention to cease hostilities and to commence a political process”.


During the panel “Squeezed and angry: how to fix the middle-class crisis”, Christine Lagarde, MD of the International Monetary Fund, was asked to respond to how a fairer distribution of wealth could contrast the world’s populist rise. She claimed that the reforms to be implemented are firstly fiscal and structural. “It has to be a capillary, regional process focused on the benefits ensuing for people. Probably it is about a greater redistribution than we have witnessed so far. Way too wide disparities have hindered sustainable growth”.

Disparities that underlie a polarized world divided from the political, social and economic standpoint. An extremely challenging world for policy makers to lead, according to the Italian economy minister Piercarlo Padoan, who attended the panel “Leading in divided times”. “Where did divisions originate from? From the dissatisfaction citizens experience vis-à-vis present and future prospects, from the huge gap between well-off and poor and from the divide between citizens and politics”, he added. “The citizens claim that political measures are pointless at their best. Therefore they say no to the measures. It is the time of no. Today’s leaders are to take courage in their hands and to implement effective measures, even if hard to accept on the short run and outline a vision informing the next two to three decades.”.

Will the Davos meeting lead to consistent conclusions to the aim of bridging the gaps and overcoming disparities? This is the question the New York Times posed in a stiff editorial signed by the editorial staff. They wrote that “the World Economic Forum opened the annual meeting of the world’s richest and most powerful players against the backdrop of the revolts against the global happy few” and wondered “whether these golden medal champions of globalization will choose to address disparities or will continue to eat and drink as usual. But in order for Davos to make the difference, it is mandatory that globalization be truly addressed wile dismissing hackneyed solutions about building a dynamic, inclusive, multi-stakeholder system of global governance”.

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