Elites to tackle 'fundamentally changed' world at Davos

23rd January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The eurozone's debt battle and the power shift towards emerging giants like China and India will be at the heart of discussions on a "fundamentally changed world" at this week's Davos meeting of global elites.

"The world has fundamentally changed," said Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum which organises the annual meeting at the Alpine resort.

"One of the most important factors of the new reality is the shift of geopolitical and geoeconomic power from north to south, from west to east.

"This has not only political and economic consequences. I think the world will go through some shock waves of adaptation," he added.

The south and east are taking up a bigger seat in this new world, as illustrated by the participation of emerging giants like India and China at the meeting.

Compared to a decade ago, Chinese representation is up five-fold while that from India is up four-fold, said Robert Greenhill, who is the WEF's chief business officer.

"It's a reflection of the accelerated leadership of China and India in the global and economic and intellectual discussions globally," he explained.

Several Indian ministers including home affairs, finance and commerce and industry will be at Davos while China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming is expected to give a rundown on the country's decade as a member of the World Trade Organisation.

With US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also on the guest list, Washington's concerns over its trade balance with China and the value of the renminbi against the US dollar is expected to be a subject of discussion.

But beyond issues surrounding the emerging giants, the 2,500 participants at the forum are also expected to focus on the ongoing eurozone debt crisis.

"The big question right now is what Europe is going to do about debt restructuring," Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at analyst group IHS, told AFP.

Participants will be looking to Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou for a progress on Athens' fight to contain its debt since a near meltdown a year ago.

Other European leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain's David Cameron will also be at hand to discuss issues in the region.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to outline the G20 agenda under France's presidency.

Russia is also out in force. Flanked by deputy prime ministers Aleksei Kudrin and Igor Shuvalov as well as foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is to open the meeting.

With Israeli President Shimon Peres, a regular guest, in attendance, conflicts in the Middle East will not be neglected.

Latin American and African leaders due at the meeting include Mexican President Felipe Calderon, South Africa's Jacob Zuma and Rwanda's Paul Kagame.

For a bit of stardust to break the serious business, the WEF is turning to Hollywood veteran Robert De Niro, U2 frontman Bono and Spanish opera singer Jose Carreras.

"In terms of quality and diversity, the list of participants has never been as good as this year," said Schwab.

© 2011 AFP

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