So what was actually achieved at Davos?

Most business leaders attend not to learn about the latest trends in robotics or the arts, but to do business. (Reuters)
Updated 26 January 2019

So what was actually achieved at Davos?

  • From resolutions and understanding on climate change, to statements of intent on economic policy and international relations, they were all worthy developments

DAVOS: As the last of the private jets left Davos on Friday, many were asking: What exactly was achieved at the annual meeting of the global elite?

One WEF official said wearily: “They ask that every year, but it’s not really the point. It is always good to talk to different people, and as somebody said, if you’re talking it means you’re not fighting.”

But it is an increasingly touchy subject for the WEF. The forum pointedly issued a press release on the final day listing “33 ways Davos 19 made an impact on the world.” From resolutions and understanding on climate change, to statements of intent on economic policy and international relations, they were all worthy developments.

Global themes were the biggest newsmakers. The US-China “trade war” was probably the most often-heard phrase, followed by growing concern over the global economy; Brexit was never far from the top of the agenda; Venezuela dominated proceedings toward the end of the week.

Climate change and environmental concerns were also dominant, partly because of the eloquent advocacy of Sir David Attenborough.

The Middle East was a constant theme too, not least because of the big presence of leaders from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab states. Most sessions on Middle East subjects — from security to economic transformation to energy— were packed.

In any case, most business leaders attend not to learn about the latest trends in robotics or the arts, but to do business. One global corporate chief told Arab News he had fitted 50 “bilaterals” — deal-doing business meetings — into three days.


OECD forecast sees global growth at decade low

Updated 22 November 2019

OECD forecast sees global growth at decade low

  • Governments failing to get to grips with challenges, outlook says

PARIS: The global economy is growing at the slowest pace since the financial crisis as governments leave it to central banks to revive investment, the OECD said on Thursday in an update of its forecasts.

The world economy is projected to grow by a decade-low 2.9 percent this year and next, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its Economic Outlook, trimming its 2020 forecast from an estimate of 3 percent in September.

Offering meagre consolation, the Paris-based policy forum forecast growth would edge up to 3 percent in 2021, but only if a myriad of risks ranging from trade wars to an unexpectedly sharp Chinese slowdown is contained.

A bigger concern, however, is that governments are failing to get to grips with global challenges such as climate change, the digitalization of their economies and the crumbling of the multilateral order that emerged after the fall of Communism.

“It would be a policy mistake to consider these shifts as temporary factors that can be addressed with monetary or fiscal policy: they are structural,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone wrote in the report.

Without clear policy direction on these issues, “uncertainty will continue to loom high, damaging growth prospects,” she added.

Among the major economies, US growth was forecast at 2.3 percent this year, trimmed from 2.4 percent in September as the fiscal impulse from a 2017 tax cut waned and amid weakness among US trading partners.

With the world’s biggest economy seen growing 2 percent in 2020 and 2021, the OECD said further interest rate cuts would be warranted only if growth turned weaker.

China, which is not an OECD member but is tracked by it, was forecast to grow marginally faster in 2019 than had been expected in September, with growth of 6.2 percent rather than 6.1 percent.

However, the OECD said that China would keep losing momentum, with growth of 5.7 percent expected in 2020 and 5.5 percent in 2021 in the face of trade tensions and a gradual rebalancing of activity away from exports to the domestic economy.

In the euro area, growth was seen at 1.2 percent in 2019 and 1.1 percent in 2020, up both years by 0.1 percentage point on the September forecast. It is seen at 1.2 percent in 2021.

The OECD warned that the relaunch of bond buying at the European Central Bank would have a limited impact if euro area countries did not boost investment.

The outlook for Britain improved marginally from September as the prospect of a no-deal exit from the EU recedes.

British growth was upgraded to 1.2 percent this year from 1 percent previously and was seen at 1 percent in 2020.