Trump and ‘Davos Man’: Best of enemies

The ‘America First’ mantra of US President Donald Trump is set to collide with the cheerleaders of globalization in Davos this week. (Reuters)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Trump and ‘Davos Man’: Best of enemies

PARIS: A compelling clash of cultures will unfold in the vertiginous Swiss Alps this week as Donald Trump, just over 12 months into his high-wire presidency, confronts the cheerleaders of globalization in Davos.

Having whipped up working-class resentment of the global elite to devastating effect en route to the White House, the US president’s “America First” vision will run headlong into the haughty ambition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to map out “a shared future in a fractured world.”

The 2017 gathering ended on the same day as Trump was inaugurated, and many of the discussions during the week dwelt anxiously on what his presidency would portend.

China’s President Xi Jinping, the star turn in Davos last year, exploited such misgivings to stake out an alternative vision for the international economy with China playing a lead role in both trade and fighting climate change.

A year on, Trump will be closing the conference with a speech next Friday.

He faced a budget mess at home, where the US government officially shut down on Saturday after lawmakers failed to agree a stop-gap spending deal.

The president is relishing his role as apostate-in-chief bent on demolishing the pieties held dear by the WEF, which is drawing some 70 other leaders along with thousands of delegates from the worlds of industry, finance and show business, plus protesters opposed to the US president.

The property mogul’s final election campaign advertisement of November 2016 made the distinction brutally clear, casting himself as the defender of hard-working Americans against “global special interests,” over images of Davos perennials such as financier George Soros and Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein.

Both are Jewish, and the ad was assailed as anti-semitic by critics.

So why consort in the Swiss Alps with people who are hate figures to his political base?

In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump said part of his motivation in becoming the first US president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000 was to be an unabashed “cheerleader for the country.”

Trump also pointed to quickening US economic growth and a roaring stock market as reasons to cheer when he and a large part of his cabinet join leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Michel Temer in Switzerland.

On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will present in Davos an updated overview of the global economy, which is indeed expanding at a broad and healthy clip.

But ahead of the meetings, a WEF survey of nearly 1,000 experts and decision-makers underlined growing anxiety about the risks of environmental disaster and armed conflict — not least involving North Korea and the United States, after months of bellicose rhetoric from Trump.

Douglas Rediker, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington who was appointed by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama to the IMF’s executive board, said there was no way to reconcile the WEF’s globalist outlook and the Trump dogma.

“It will be a jarring visit even if the president is on his best diplomatic behavior. And that’s a big if,” Rediker said.

Trump will be running up against internationalist foils in Davos this week such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron, who has subverted one of the US president’s signature lines with his own motto of “Make our planet great again.”

The White House said he plans to meet Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, days after he canceled a planned trip to London that had cast further doubt on the strength of the vaunted trans-Atlantic “special relationship.”

The organizers, mindful of the globe-trotting but all-male caricature of “Davos Man,” are also keen to extol their efforts to promote representation by women, as sexual harassment and the gender pay gap move up the political agenda worldwide.

“Davos Women” will account for 21 percent of the total number of delegates this year, the highest ever proportion, if still relatively meagre. They include IMF chief Christine Lagarde, IBM head Ginni Rometty and screen star Cate Blanchett.

Cue another clash of visions given the presence of Trump, whose election campaign in 2016 was nearly upended late on by a leaked recording in which he boasted of groping women.

The politicians will join the chiefs of some 1,900 companies to debate a panoply of issues such as the future of work in an age of automation and artificial intelligence, tackling “the next pandemic,” and leveraging the potential of virtual currencies.

Yet there is no escaping the long shadow cast over the event by Trump, as the convention-shredding president bids to make good on his Davos-baiting promises.
WEF founder Klaus Schwab is not giving up hope.

“No country alone, no stakeholder alone, no individual alone, can solve the issues on the global agenda. No issue can be solved in an isolated way,” he said.
 


UAE to loosen visa rules for investors and innovators

Updated 56 min 42 sec ago
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UAE to loosen visa rules for investors and innovators

  • UAE cabinet announces the launch of an integrated visa system to attract talent and talent in all vital sectors of the national economy
  • The Council also announced changes in the system of foreign ownership of companies in the country, which allows the acquisition of 100% of the global investors by the end of the year

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates, home to financial hubs Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is loosening its residency laws and will grant long-term visas for up to 10 years to investors and highly-skilled professionals.
The 10-year residency visas will be granted to specialists in science, medicine and research, and to “exceptional students.” The state-run WAM news agency says the plan aims to attract global investment and innovators.
The UAE Cabinet approved the new rules on Sunday, saying plans are also on track to allow foreign investors 100 percent ownership of their UAE-based companies this year.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum affirmed that the UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors. “The UAE has been open, governed by tolerance and contributed to by all who live on its land.
“Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation offer the best opportunities to attract international investment and exceptional talent in the UAE,” he said. “Our country is the land of opportunity, the best environment for realizing human dreams and unleashing their extraordinary potentials.”
The new regulations include raising the percentage of global investors’ ownership in companies to 100% by the end of the current year. He directed the Ministry of Economy in coordination with the concerned parties to implement the decision and follow up on its developments and submit a detailed study in the third quarter of this year.
The new regulations approved by the Council of Ministers and the authorities concerned have also set the procedures for implementing them to grant investors residence visas of up to ten years for them and all members of their families, as well as granting residency visas of up to ten years for specialized competencies in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields.
The new regulations also include visas for students studying in the country for five years and a 10-year residency for exceptional students.
Under current laws, foreign companies must have an Emirati owning 51 percent of the shares, unless the company operates in a free zone. Major brands Apple and Tesla are believed to be exceptions to the rule.