World Economic Forum: The Yearly Meeting of the Super Rich and Influential

The annual World Economic Forum was yet again held in the Swiss alpine town of Davos in January 2017. The forum gathers together business people, politicians, celebrities, charities and NGOs to discuss global issues, brainstorm and make new contacts. The agenda this year was the Fourth Industrial Revolution, referring to technological advancements aiming to operate at the interface between biological, digital and physical industries.

China’s growing role in the global economy as the driving force for free markets was strongly seen in Davos. The Chinese President Xi Jinping took part for the first time in the forum, giving assuring statements regarding China’s responsibility towards the global market. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” President Xi starts his speech quoting Charles Dickens by comparing the current world situation to the times of the industrial revolution.

There is no point in blaming the economic globalisation for world’s problems. The international financial crisis are due to excessive chase for profit by financial capital and grave failure of financial regulation

– Xi Jinping

Among many Chinese business people present, one of the most outspoken was the founder of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma. In a relaxed and straightforward interview during one of the smaller and more intimate sessions, Ma spoke about his recent meeting with the President-elect Donald Trump. Ma elaborated his aims to create a million jobs in the US by supporting small businesses especially in the Midwest providing the farmers networks to be able to export to China. During the session, he further criticised Trumps protectionism by reminding how much wealth the United States had accumulated due to globalisation and free trade. He went on to say that instead of investing that money in American people, the US has had 13 wars during last 30 years wasting $14.2 trillion.

Some of the other key moments and aspects at the forum where Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech, which was shadowed by the uncertainties of what Brexit will actually mean on the global sphere and Russia’s suddenly improved world situation from an isolated and sanctioned position, into militarily and politically decisive power. Even though, the yearly forum takes pride in tackling issues such as inequality, climate change and global crises, it has been criticised as a private party of the privileged one percent. Just a day before the forum itself, Oxfam, a UK based charity organisation, published a report showing that 8 world’s richest men own the same amount of wealth as half of the world’s population. Given that the year 2016 wasn’t the best year for those in the most vulnerable situations, one can only hope this year to be better.

Picture: World Economic Forum 2017 [U.S. Embassy Bern, Switzerland/Creative Commons]

Guleed Ahmed is a youth activist and a medical student currently residing in Helsinki. He has experience in coordinating advocacy movements and grassroots campaigns. He is the founder of The Oust media website.
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