Brazil's Bolsonaro to headline Davos meet in Trump's absence

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Brazil's Bolsonaro to headline Davos meet in Trump's absence
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro is heading to Switzerland for the WEF annual meeting. Photo: AFP

Brazil's new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to be the star attraction at this year's Davos Forum, taking place next week at a time of "profound global instability", according to organisers.


The World Economic Forum on Tuesday unveiled its lineup for the annual meeting at the luxury Swiss ski resort town, where this year's focus is on "Shaping the Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution".

The five-day event kicks off Monday and is expected to draw some 3,000 political and business elites, including 65 heads of state and government. 

Last year's main attraction was US President Donald Trump, who announced at the last minute that he would take part in the annual meeting of global movers and shakers.

Trump had initially announced that he would participate this year as well, but faced with a partial US government shutdown as he fights to secure funds for a border wall, he decided to call off the trip last week.

This will allow Bolsonaro, another rightwing populist, to take centre stage at the event. He will give a keynote address to the elite gathering on Tuesday afternoon.

The meeting in the Swiss Alps will mark the Brazilian president's first international trip since his January 1st inauguration.

Bolsonaro, who will be accompanied by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, Justice Minister Sergio Moro and Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, has vowed to showcase "a different Brazil, free of ideological ties and widespread corruption" at the meeting.

"We are entering a period of profound global instability," warned WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab in a statement, pointing to the disruption caused by new technologies and shifts in the geopolitical balance.

'Look after the losers'

"We have to define a new approach of globalisation, which is more inclusive," Schwab, 80, told reporters.

"Globalisation produces winners and losers... Now we have to look after the losers, after those who have been left behind."

Asked if Trump's absence would detract from debates on the future of globalisation, WEF President Borge Brende said the meeting would nonetheless include "crucial discussions on how is globalisation going to move forward."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be among the attendees at the WEF meeting in Davos this year. Photo: AFP

While Trump will miss this year's event, the Davos line-up will include "key secretaries", he said, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be there, as will her Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz, as well as the presidents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be there, as will the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and Vietnam.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres will also attend, flanked by the heads of the UN agencies for trade, labour, refugees and human rights, as well as the heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and NATO.

Swedish schoolgirl and environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg. Photo: Catherine Edwards/The Local

The business world will also be well represented, with the bosses of some 1,700 companies expected to be on hand.

Activists and civil society leaders will also come out in force, including Nobel laureate Denis Mukwege, the surgeon in Democratic Republic of Congo who helps women recover from the trauma of rape.

Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg -- the 15-year-old behind a growing youth campaign across the planet pleading lawmakers and corporations to slash greenhouse gas emissions and avert runaway global warming -- also plans to travel by train from Sweden to attend.


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