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WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: DAVOS

OIL

Saudi king’s death ‘will not change oil policy’

The chief economist of the International Energy Agency said in Davos on Friday that there would be no "significant" changes to Saudi oil policy following the death of King Abdullah.

Saudi king's death 'will not change oil policy'
International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol. Photo: IEA

"With the death of the king, with the changes (in government), I do not expect any significant change in the oil policy of Saudi Arabia and I expect and hope that they will continue to be a stabilization factor in the oil markets," Fatih Birol told AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
   
"I hope they will continue to contribute to the stability of the oil markets . . . especially in these days where we are going through difficult days," he added.
   
The elderly King Abdullah died earlier Friday and was replaced by his half-brother Salman as the absolute ruler of the world's top oil exporter and the spiritual home of Islam.
   
As the top producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Saudi Arabia has been the driving force behind the cartel's refusal to slash output to support oil prices, which have fallen by more than 50 percent since June.
   
Oil prices surged Friday following Abdullah's death, amid uncertainty over whether the new king would maintain that policy.

King Abdullah II of Jordan and other Middle Eastern dignitaries left the Davos forum on Friday, flying home early on news of King Abdullah's death, event organizers told AFP.
   
The Jordanian king was set to address the world's financial and political elite in a speech at 2.15pm, but the address was cancelled, WEF planners said.
   
Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, another half-brother to King Abdullah, also left the posh ski resort, cancelling a Friday morning appearance alongside ministers from Canada and Germany.

Meanwhile, Israel's former president Shimon Peres told reporters in Davos that the death of King Abdullah was "a real loss for the peace of the Middle East".
   
"He was an experienced leader and a wise king," Peres said.

"He had the courage . . . to stand up and introduce a peace programme for the Middle East," he said, referring to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
   
"I'm not sure that we could have accepted all the items in the peace process but the spirit, the strength and the wisdom invested in it" led to a process that serves still as "a powerful base for making peace." 
   
The peace initiative put forward by Abdullah offered Israel blanket recognition from 22 Arab states in return for an independent state for the Palestinians.

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DAVOS

Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May

The World Economic Forum announced Wednesday that its postponed 2021 Davos summit, themed as "The Great Reset" in the coronavirus crisis, will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland from May 18 to 21.

Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May
Participants at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2020. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The annual gathering of the world's political, economic and business elite traditionally takes place in January against the idyllic snowy backdrop of the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.

But it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, charged with remodelling the world economy in the wake of the crisis, will now be held 125 kilometres (75 miles) away in the plush Burgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne.

“The meeting will take place as long as all conditions are in place to guarantee the health and safety of participants and the host community,” WEF spokesman Adrian Monck said in a statement.

“The meeting will focus on the solutions required to address the world's most pressing challenges. “Global leaders will come together to design a common recovery path, to shape 'The Great Reset' in the post-Covid-19 era and rebuild a more cohesive and sustainable society.”

Hybrid format

The WEF announced in June that the 51st edition of its annual meeting would take place in a hybrid format, then in August said it was being delayed for several months to reduce any risks to participants from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lucerne summit will combine both in-person and virtual elements, with participants linked to a network of around 400 hubs worldwide to incorporate dialogue with the WEF's “young global shapers, to ensure openness and inclusion”, said Monck.

The summit will be preceded during the week of January 25 by digitally-convened high-level “Davos Dialogues”, when global leaders will share their views on the state of the world in 2021.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1.04 million people while at least 35.5 million infections have been recorded since the outbreak emerged in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The pandemic has also triggered a global economic downturn, though the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that while it is far from over, it will not be as bad as originally feared thanks to a flood of government spending.

The World Trade Organization said likewise, forecasting a global trade contraction of 9.2 percent this year, rather than its previous “optimistic scenario” prediction of 12.9 percent.

But global trade will then grow by only 7.2 percent next year, rather than the previous 21.3-percent estimate issued in April, the WTO added.

Swiss cases rising

The WEF announcement comes as Switzerland announced Wednesday that daily coronavirus cases had jumped over the 1,000-mark for the first time since April 1, when the peak of the pandemic's initial wave began to recede.

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset has urged the country to “get a grip” and be more rigorous in applying the basic measures to control the spread of the virus.

The 2020 edition of the WEF summit, hosted in January just as the world was beginning to become aware of the new coronavirus spreading in China, drew more than 50 heads of state and government to Davos.

It focused on themes of sustainability and finding a more inclusive model for capitalism. US President Donald Trump and Swedish teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg were among its top speakers.

The WEF said it aims to be back in Davos for 2022.

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