Davos opens with power shift to South, East in focus

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The annual meeting of world elites at the Swiss ski resort of Davos opened Wednesday with executives highlighting a power shift from the advanced world to emerging market as recovery took hold.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meanwhile confirmed that he would make his opening speech at the forum, but had cancelled most other Davos appointments after a deadly attack on a Moscow airport.

Medvedev said in a newspaper interview that he would participate in the forum because it was a very important global venue to present Russia's position.

"Our task is to promote Russia's opportunities," he told business daily Vedomosti. "We are indeed seeking investments, we want quick recovering growth after the crisis."

Medvedev had been expected to lead the country's pitch to investors and speak on a number of topics including Russia's plans to build world-class ski resorts in its troubled North Caucasus region.

Under the revised plan however, Medvedev will spend just a few hours in Davos meeting businessmen and make the opening speech at the forum before returning to Moscow Wednesday evening, officials said.

Ahead of his arrival, the talk at Davos centred on the power shift from the traditional economic powers of the western world towards emerging giants in Asia and Latin America.

"What is really happening is a slowdown of the western world and the growth of the emerging markets," Azim Premji, chairman of Indian software major Wipro, told the opening panel.

This is a complete shift in the balance of power," he argued.

"In 10 years, the economy of the emerging world will be ... equal to or slightly larger than the US economy," added the billionaire.

China's highest ranking official at the International Monetary Fund, Zhu Min, said global recovery was still being driven predominantly by Asian giants India and China.

"For the emerging markets, I think growth is very strong," said the former deputy Chinese central bank governor.

"China will still end up with about nine percent, India will probably grow around eight percent."

Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive of WPP, the world's second-biggest advertising group, pointed to other rising stars in the emerging markets.

"This is the decade of Latin America, with Brazil holding the World Cup and the Olympics," he said.

"And in Asia, it isn't just India and China, but places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand."

Some 2,500 participants will gather at the forum over the week.

They will include Latin American and African leaders, such as Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos, South Africa's Jacob Zuma and Rwanda's Paul Kagame.

Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou will also attend, with their progress report on Athens' fight to contain its debt since its near meltdown a year ago keenly awaited.

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

French President Nicolas Sarkozy meanwhile will visit to outline the G20 agenda under France's presidency.

© 2011 AFP

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