Selected BBC Reports from the World Economic Forum in Davos

At a street corner being pinned to the wall by police with Bill Gates and Kofi Annan so the PM of Russia’s motorcade can go by….

Bit of a love-in between Nick Clegg and the European Central Bank’s Jean-Claude Trichet. Both talk about the important trade links between the UK and the eurozone. The UK is more important to us than the US, the ECB president says.

Congress Hall barely half full for Europe debate feat. Trichet, Clegg and Papandreou. Does this mean the eurozone crisis is over?

Back with Europe and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou who says his country has a “very clear path, a roadmap” for ending its debt problems. He hopes Greece’s economy can return to growth by 2012. Sounds good. But he also talks about the need to lengthen Greek debt payments to avoid a “bump” in 2014.

The BBC debate concludes with a rather unscientific way of measuring who will be the leading global power in 20 years’ time (a show of hands). China or the US? The majority of the 150-strong audience plump for the US. Let us know what you think.

Over at a session called “Europe: Back to the Drawing Board,” UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says eurozone countries need to “return to some of those basic ideas” that were “on the original drawing board” when the single currency was created. This includes governments doing “the difficult homework that’s necessary for Europe’s long-term benefit.”

Lagarde and Haass both question how China will balance its responsibilities at home with their responsibilities abroad. Victor Chu, chairman of First Eastern Investment Group, attempts to explain the domestic pressures China faces that the rest of the world don’t see.

Anand Sharma raises a laugh from the audience with this one-liner: “India is on the global train, we are not standing on the platform.”

The BBC World debate moves on to India and China. But while many people may band the two countries together as emerging economies, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma points out that their growth has been driven by different things. China’s has been primarily down to increased global trade; India’s by domestic demand.

We’ve said much about Russia and its efforts to attract foreign investment. But Africa wants to get in on the act too. There are African business bosses banging the drum and the World Bank’s Ngozi Okonjo Iweala tells BBC World about its burgeoning middle class, ripe for investment. Nestle is getting ready to put a billion dollars into African countries, she says.

Richard Haass, leader of the Council on Foreign Relations in the US, says the biggest challenges facing the United States are domestic issues. But does he see a consensus emerging on what needs to be done at home? “I’ll be honest – I don’t see it yet.”

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde echoes President Sarkozy’s earlier call for a rebalancing of global institutions such as the IMF and WTO so “we can be effective and decisive not just in our speeches but in our actions.” France will be putting the topic of global governance on the G20’s agenda this year.

Europe may have been dominating the main stage this morning, but the US and its burgeoning deficit has been on the minds of many around the conference halls. What’s going to happen first: sensible US fiscal policy, or a global revolt against the dollar? In all my discussions about the global economy so far here in Davos, that’s the question we keep coming back to.

One of the world’s richest men, Russian aluminium king Oleg Deripaska, has been defending his country against claims that investors are put off by politicians meddling in business. Try doing business in South Africa or India, he tells the BBC’s Tanya Beckett, where you might well be tied up in the court system for 20 years. In Russia, it will take two years and you will get “a very solid decision,” he says.

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3 responses to “Selected BBC Reports from the World Economic Forum in Davos

  1. My favourite Davos tweet:
    Richard Edgar: George Soros stole my laptop bag. By mistake. We both have WEF bags. His aide is bringing it back. #davos @ftdavos #ft

  2. Interesting. Bill Gates and Kofi Annan as bodies in the crush.
    How I hate Davos.