While many expected President Donald Trump to be the star at this year’s Davos Conference he was upstaged by a predictable rival- China. The World Economic Forum’s conference in Davos, Switzerland is considered to be the premiere destination worldwide for economic policymakers. Everyone from kings to dictators attends the star studded speeches and at night- parties.
This year it is clear that the world’s continuing breakout star is China. Chinese representatives cut a deal with the current President of Brazil for road infrastructure development in underserved parts of the country. China also wooed the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Abbasi. Pakistan has been the recipient of massive amounts of foreign aid as the United States draws back from aiding the country. Pakistan will be key to China’s “New Silk Road” project which aims to create a superhighway from China to Europe.
Other former suitors of China have not been so lucky. Economic development ministers from the beleaguered country of Venezuela had issues with the length of their meeting with their Chinese counterparts. In addition, old stalwarts like Zimbabwe and Cuba appear to be moving closer to the American orbit- despite Trump.
While the attendees at Davos have no collective power to pass decisions at the conference they have massive amounts of power in their homelands. The importance of this cannot be understated- while Davos has been billed as an economic conference it has become the Olympics of international finance, trade and diplomacy. China making such a splash at the conference is something every finance minister on the planet will take note of.