Davos 2018 – What’s it all about?

Is it relevant, and what does it mean for the South African investor?

 

It’s that time of year again where more than 2500 of the world’s top leaders including heads of state, central bankers and representatives from most of the world’s top companies converge on the little town of Davos in Switzerland to share ideas, promote agendas and generally just network. 

 

Last year, the theme was” responsive and responsible leadership” and it was particularly relevant given the apparent threat to globalisation from a rising tide of populism, nationalism, and protectionism. Brexit, the recent election of Donald Trump and impending European elections made the theme particularly relevant at the time.

 

The theme of this year’s show piece “creating a shared future in a fractured world” suggests that the threat to globalisation remains alive and well. While anxiety regarding a break-up of the eurozone may have subsided following various European country elections, the stance of the Trump administration continues to cause jitters. This is evidenced by the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership and the potential withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). President Trump will be attending the conference this year which should make things particularly interesting given his strong “America first” stance

 

Is Davos just an elitist “talk shop” with little real impact?

 

As always, these conferences typically achieve no “quick fixes” but there is little doubt that a global meeting of minds and having common cause is always beneficial. A broad agreement on what the problems and opportunities are is necessary before embarking on any kind of co-ordinated solution. The real value in conferences of this nature, however, is about making contacts, presenting cases and influencing influential people.

 

What does it mean from a South African perspective?

 

Davos has always been a great opportunity for the SA delegation to put the country’s best foot forward.