English to mix with world's power elite

World Economic Forum executive chairman and founder Klaus Schwab pauses during a news conference...
World Economic Forum executive chairman and founder Klaus Schwab pauses during a news conference yesterday. Photo by Reuters.
Finance Minister Bill English will next week be mingling with some of the world's most rich and powerful people when he attends the annual Davos gathering.

The gathering, which draws thousands of the world's most powerful people, would this year welcome more than 40 heads of state and government to focus on questions about the world's future, organisers said yesterday.

The theme of the World Economic Forum this year is ''The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society''.

It is the first time Mr English has attended the forum annual meeting.

''The forum will provide me with an opportunity to understand the global risks to New Zealand's positive economic outlook. It will also provide me with a clearing understanding of how the people and markets we trade with are thinking about our common challenges,'' Mr English said.

He was particularly interested in discussions about returning to what many called ''natural growth'' as economies moved away from large monetary and fiscal stimulus programmes.

The unwinding of the stimulus programmes by large economies would have an impact on small open economies like New Zealand's, Mr English said.

Among the participants at this year's event, which runs from January 22 to 25,

are British Prime Minister David Cameron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and presidents including South Korea's Park Geun-hye, Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich, Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto and Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan, Reuters reported.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will both be speaking and an encounter between the two leaders whose countries are traditional foes would be logistically possible.

Central bankers Mark Carney, Mario Draghi and Haruhiko Kuroda and US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew are also taking part, as well as IMF chief Christine Lagarde and World Bank head Jim Yong Kim.

The 2500 participants include the heads of all major international organisations and more than half the chief executives of the 1000 largest companies, including Goldman Sachs chairman and chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and Coca-Cola chairman and chief executive Muhtar Kent.

More high-level guests are expected to be announced in the next few days. Others who could visit include US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will be attending the opening of Syrian peace talks in Montreux, at the other end of Switzerland.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will be the only head of state from the BRIC nations to attend. India is sending a delegation including Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, while Russia will be represented by its finance minister and two deputy prime ministers.

China is sending Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-chairman of its National Development and Reform Commission.

Klaus Schwab, who heads the World Economic Forum that runs the event, said there would be a ''senior leader'' from China who was not yet on the published guest list.

Mr Schwab likes to include ''disruptors'' in the guest list - including Internet entrepreneurs and activists - and will give the participants a chance to experience the rougher side of life in a mock-up refugee camp in the Alpine resort, as well as a special simulation of life as a Syrian refugee in Jordan.

But Davos will not have any representatives of some of the past year's biggest disrupters, such as Edward Snowden, Julian Assange or Pussy Riot, nor has Russia's newly freed ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky been invited.

''As far as Mr Khodorkovsky's concerned we certainly could consider an invitation next year, but we first have to be clear what his future is, and that's not yet very obvious,'' Mr Schwab said.




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