- According to Islam Faisal
- Economic editor
Just a week ago, expectations for the latest meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, were set against the backdrop of three years of pandemics, blockades and Ukraine war energy shocks. .
Inflation is falling and 2024 is seen as the year that central banks start cutting interest rates, including in the UK. During three years of various, interlocking global crises, the world economy has been in the shadow of major geopolitical changes.
Developments in recent days show that the “crisis” is far from over.
Perhaps the most notable development is the ability of the Houthis to use drones and relatively cheap weapons to wreak havoc on world trade. The air strikes against the Houthi forces in Yemen were carried out explicitly to maintain trade flows and economic recovery flowing through the straits leading to the Suez Canal.
But oil prices jumped on Friday as the risk of broader confrontation in the region also increased. For three months, the crisis in Gaza has seen RAF jets attacking targets in Aden. What will happen three months from now?
When that happens, this kind of fundamental diplomatic challenge is presented to the World Economic Forum. Launched in 1971 and held annually at the Alpine ski resort of Davos, the conference brings together the world’s leading businessmen and politicians as well as key figures from charities and organizations. academic world.
Where else can the President of Israel, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia and the Prime Minister of Qatar be present at the same time in the same space, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the Chinese Prime Minister? Quoc Ly Cuong?
One does not expect much given the grim situation in the Middle East, but this is a place where unexpected and constructive conversations can take place in private.
Davos has been in a bit of a slump since the pandemic. The appearance of G7 leaders is increasingly rare. Rishi Sunak has not arrived and will not go this week. In a year of many elections around the globe, this year’s US delegation is especially thin. Republicans in particular viewed the event with some suspicion.
Republican Ron DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate, last year called Davos a “threat to freedom” run by China. Florida’s governor said any policy that comes out of the forum is “dead on arrival” in his state. The view in Davos is that he thinks such rhetoric will play well in the presidential primaries that also begin this week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is attending and will note the “Ukraine fatigue” that has spread to Washington DC and become widespread in the developing world.
As for the UK, some in the business community appear ready to move beyond a curious interest in the Labor Party in this election year.
Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will compete for the attention of UK business leaders and international investors.
If business investors are worried about Labour’s economic plans, such as extra investment spending, the World Economic Forum is exactly where that may or may not come up appear. I recall then opposition leader David Cameron meeting world leaders, shortly before he became prime minister in 2010.
There has been a backlash against some of the company’s typical good deeds during the event, especially investors’ recent focus on the company’s environmental and social policies.
To put it brutally, the world over the past two years has seen huge profits by hydrocarbon explorers, carbon emitters and arms companies.
Optimism will come from the hope that the disturbed geopolitical situation can somehow stabilize without further energy shocks.
Artificial intelligence will be everywhere, with AI boss opening ChatGPT, ChatGPT creator Sam Altman, will be honored by Microsoft among the world’s political and business leaders, the company now is competing with Apple to become the world’s largest company.
So, at the start of a year filled with chaos and uncertainty in global politics and diplomacy, and with question marks over the economic recovery after years of such crisis, it is hard to imagine a time when What better for a gathering like this week’s World Economic Forum.
The mission is to move towards the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not easy.