Business World

Sunday 21 July 2019

US-China trade war casts shadow over Davos luminaries

High society: the Swiss town, which is the highest in Europe, will host the annual summit this week. Photo: Reuters
High society: the Swiss town, which is the highest in Europe, will host the annual summit this week. Photo: Reuters

Gavin McLoughlin in Davos, Switzerland

Donald Trump and Theresa May are among the global leaders who have pulled out of this year's World Economic Forum in Davos.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe are among the 3,000 billionaires, prime ministers and presidents, charity chiefs and academics at the annual gathering of the world's richest and most powerful people in the Swiss resort. They will be joined by thousands of hangers on who will trek to Europe's highest town this week.

But, US President Trump's decision to stay away himself and to keep Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the usually large US delegation at home means hotel rooms that in most years must be booked months in advance are suddenly available, Swiss newspaper 'Tages-Anzeiger' has reported.

The British Prime Minister has also pulled out as she is needed at home to deal with Brexit. Tánaiste Simon Coveney is staying put too, having initially planned to visit, also for Brexit reasons.

With the Irish focus on pushing Ireland as a base for foreign direct investment, IDA boss Martin Shanahan is going.

For those who are attending, a key formal theme of the conference is the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, including on jobs.

A PwC survey published at the event found 85pc of CEOs believe AI will dramatically change their business over the next five years. Just under half think the technology will destroy more jobs than it creates.

But hovering over events are more immediate geopolitical headwinds - including the US/China trade clash.

PWC found nearly 30pc of global CEOs expect growth to decline this year.

"With the rise of trade tensions and protectionism it stands to reason that confidence is waning," said PwC global chairman Bob Moritz.

Irish Independent

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