The key topic of this year’s Davos conference was inequality, while the most important message is that responsible representatives of the political and business elite must find ways to stimulate economic growth with a more equal distribution of wealth. The gathering was marked by the attendance of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who proposed a new model for organising global relations
The theme of this year’s conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos, which brought together over 3,000 representatives of the world’s political and economic elite from 17th to 20th January, was inequality and the ever deepening gap between rich and poor, and the need for responsible leadership in response to the dangerous rise in populism and the challenges brought by the so-called fourth industrial revolution. WEF founder Klaus Schwab warned that 2017 could represent a key milestone in the further development of mankind. “The world around us is changing at an unprecedented pace. We find ourselves at a turning point where our traditional concepts of society, nation states and modes of employment are facing major challenges.”
In the same vein, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde called for the better distribution of wealth in order to respond to the rise of populism worldwide, while billionaire investor Ray Dalio, for example, predicted the possible end of globalisation. Special challenges noted by participants included the arrival of Donald Trump as president of the United States, a possible trade war between the U.S. and China, Brexit, climate change, forced migration, major natural disasters, large-scale terrorist attacks and massive data theft via the Internet.
This year was also the first time the Davos conference has been attended by a president of China. President Xi proposed a new model for more equitable global economic relations, while voicing his objection to trade wars and protectionism. Some of the mentioned threats to peace and economic progress have been on the WEF’s list for years, but new threats arise with each new conference. This forum, which among other things also represents a demonstration of refined luxury, has for several consecutive years focused on topics that could be dubbed left-orientated. In accordance with that, in Davos it can be increasingly heard that political and business leaders have a responsibility to find a way to relaunch the world economy, using innovations brought by the so-called Industrial Revolution 4.0 that simultaneously create conditions for greater social inclusion and a more equal distribution of wealth, through the coordinated implementation of monetary, fiscal and structural reforms.
Apart from that aspect, the Forum also represents one of the most influential platforms for the exchange of opinions between members of the global elite, as well as the series of useful meetings that are held on the margins of Davos’s main programme between representatives of international institutions and leaders of countries and companies. Since the turn of the millennium, Serbia and the other countries of the region have received invitations to attend the gathering in Davos.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić had a number of meetings in Davos this year with representatives of international institutions and organisations, heads ofstate (Chinese President Xi, U.S. Vice President Biden, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, Swiss President Doris Leuthard, former European Parliament President Martin Schulz,head of relations with Europe and Asia for the World Economic Forum, Martin Larkin, and others) and representatives of the economic elite (Bloomberg Chairman Peter Grauer, CEOs of companies Al Dahra, Tarkett and Lukoil, representatives of Ahold Delhaize, Poly Group and others). Ana Brnabić, Serbian Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, also took part in the Forum of New Leaders of Europe, which was held under the auspices of the World Economic Forum in Davos. These meetings saw Prime Minister Vučić and his interlocutors discuss security issues in the world and the region, reforms in Serbia, negotiations with Kosovo, Belgrade agricultural combine, PKB, investments in the airport, customs services, agricultural production and processing.
According to a Serbian Government announcement, PM Vučić noted in Davos that the Government of Serbia is very interested in one of the Forum’s regional meetings being held in Belgrade and dedicated to the theme of encouraging entrepreneurship. Speaking at the Reuters “Global Markets” Forum, held under the auspices of the World Economic Forum in Davos, PM Vučić said that ensuring peace and stability are the main goals of the Government of Serbia and that the country is investing a lot of effort into achieving its most important goal – maintaining peace and stability in the region. He also said that Serbia remains committed to joining the European Union, and that he believes the Western Balkans could be a driving force for the economic development of Europe.