Global uncertainties expected to dominate Davos meetings

LONDON -- Extremist attacks, plunging markets, and the break-neck pace of technological innovation. The world is beset by uncertainties as 2,500 business executives, political leaders and activists gather in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos this week.

See Full Article

Although the glitzy event, which features speeches, panels and debates, has drawn criticism for being disconnected from the real world, many participants stress the practical advantage of having so many peers in one place.

The meetings can lead to corporate deals and diplomatic dialogue. Last year, Ukraine struck an international bailout deal in Davos.

"A lot of relationships are built and renewed," said John Veihmeyer, chairman of the consulting firm KPMG.

The annual gathering organized by the World Economic Forum is mainly a business event but it has grown over the years to attract world leaders, celebrities, Nobel prize winners and star academics.

This year's meeting is officially about how to harness technological change. In practice, it will be abuzz with discussion about the multitude of risks facing government and business leaders.

Here's a look at what's likely to dominate the meetings.

CHINA

The future of China has become synonymous with the fate of the global economy and financial markets. Concerns about Beijing's ability to handle a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy have caused stocks to plunge this year. The big risk is that China's decline might become disorderly and hammer business activity or trigger a financial crisis. The country is a huge consumer of raw materials and energy from states like Brazil, Australia, and Russia. Its outsize industrial sector buys machinery from the West and makes and exports consumer goods at a low cost. And the growing middle class has become a key market for car makers and luxury goods companies.

Key people to watch: Jack Ma, the head of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, and Fang Xinghai, representative of China's financial market regulator.

SECURITY

The threat of extremist attacks of the kind that have hit Paris, Jakarta and Istanbul will be among the top issues, particularly for the political leaders, who will have the opportunity to hold multiple closed-door meetings with their counterparts. The international campaign to fight the Islamic State group has seen several Western countries and Russia bomb Syria and Iraq. The conflict has triggered a mass migration of people into Europe and inflamed tensions between Middle Eastern powers Saudi Arabia and Iran. This month's nuclear test by North Korea will also be a topic of discussion -- particularly after the World Economic Forum cancelled its invitation to the country's delegation over the incident.

Key people: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

OIL

The dramatic slide in energy prices is shaking up companies and economies. While making fuel cheaper for consumers and businesses, the drop in oil prices is also leading to thousands of job cuts in the energy sector and financial instability and poverty in oil-exporting countries like Russia and Venezuela. And world powers' agreement this weekend to lift sanctions on Iran will see the country start pumping millions of barrels of oil into the already oversupplied market, as well as a rush to sign business deals with the country.

Key people: Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Abdul Aziz Al Assaf, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, Iraq Prime Minister Haidar Al Abadi.

TECHNOLOGY

This year's meeting is officially focused on how "the fourth industrial revolution" will change every aspect of society, from health to business and travel. Among the most immediate concerns is how to protect companies and governments from cyberattacks as business increasingly goes digital. But participants will also be keen to discuss opportunities created by growing trends such as 3D printing, driverless cars, robotics and new biotechnologies.

Key people: Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Nearly 200 countries reached a landmark deal last month in Paris to limit the rise in world temperatures this century. Achieving that promise won't be easy. Shifting to renewable energy and cleaning up greenhouse gases will require technological innovations as well as huge investment -- about $13.5 trillion by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. To do so, governments will have to attract the private sector's interest. Meanwhile, developing countries trying to bring their populations out of poverty will have to balance the need for cheap -- and more polluting -- energy like coal against the new targets.

Key people: UN climate chief Christina Figueres and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, credited with brokering the Paris deal.

Pan Pylas contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • China's richest man Jack Ma says he has 'great chemistry' with Trudeau

    Economic CTV News
    Alibaba founder and China’s richest man Jack Ma says he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have now met five times and have “great chemistry.” “See, the PM this morning talked about cutting the red tapes and improving the business environment,” Ma told BNN’s Jon Erlichman Monday after their latest meeting in Toronto. Source
  • Ottawa begins public consultations on dealing with corporate wrongdoing

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The federal government kicked off nearly two months of public consultations Monday on revising efforts to address corporate wrongdoing, including the possible introduction of a deferred prosecution agreement regime. Engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) has led the charge for deferred prosecution agreements (DPA) found in other countries as a way to resolve criminal fraud charges it faces. Source
  • South Dakotans oppose Canadian company's gold search

    Economic CTV News
    ROCHFORD, S.D. -- Some private landowners are opposing a Canadian company's search for gold in a remote area of South Dakota's Black Hills National Forest. Mineral Mountain Resources has submitted an operating plan to the forest for more than 20 drilling sites on federal land a couple miles south of Rochford. Source
  • Alberta creates advisory team to assist cities bidding for second Amazon HQ

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- The Alberta government is stepping in to help Edmonton and Calgary bid for retail giant Amazon's second headquarters. Premier Rachel Notley says the team will assist the cities to make the best bids while selling the assets the province has to offer. Source
  • Satya Nadella aims to make Microsoft mighty — and mindful

    Economic CTV News
    Satya Nadella, the Microsoft CEO who kept the company relevant as its primary PC software business faded, could write a book about the challenges he faced. And he has ... but it's not a tell-all memoir. Source
  • Donald Trump on jobs of the future LIVE

    Economic CBC News
    Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar describe military's violence and killings 2:50 Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar describe how they faced violence and killings by the Burmese military, prompting thousands of them to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Source
  • JetBlue latest U.S. airline to back Bombardier in fight with Boeing

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- JetBlue is the latest U.S. airline to back Bombardier in its trade dispute with Boeing, ahead of the expected imposition of preliminary export duties on shipments to the United States. The airline has urged the U.S. Source
  • Ontario has lost 1,000 planned rental units since new housing rules introduced:report

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- A group representing Ontario's rental-housing providers says at least 1,000 planned rental units have been cancelled or converted to condominiums since the provincial government introduced new rent control rules in the spring. A new report commissioned by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario says the Liberal government's Fair Housing Plan has negatively impacted the province's rental housing supply. Source
  • Ontario has lost 1,000 planned rental units since new housing rules introduced: report

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- A group representing Ontario's rental-housing providers says at least 1,000 planned rental units have been cancelled or converted to condominiums since the provincial government introduced new rent control rules in the spring. A new report commissioned by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario says the Liberal government's Fair Housing Plan has negatively impacted the province's rental housing supply. Source
  • Cenovus sells Suffield for $416M to International Petroleum

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's Cenovus Energy Inc has reached an agreement to sell its Suffield oil and gas assets for $512 million to International Petroleum Corp, striking its second deal this month as it pushes ahead with its debt reduction plan. Source