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23 Jan, 2008 16:25

Fears of recession hang over Davos

Sliding stock markets and fears of a global recession are likely to dominate talks at the annual economic forum, which opens in the Swiss city of Davos on Wednesday. Also on the agenda are the legacies of Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush, the outgoing pr

Although the Davos forum hasn't officially started, several meetings have already taken place on the sidelines. Later, delegates will hear opening remarks by the Afghan president Hamid Karzai and a welcoming speech by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The main subjects of the forum will then be discussed at a plenary session. 

The corridors at the Congress Centre will be swarming with the great and the good, including about 27 heads of state or government, 113 cabinet ministers, hundreds of chief executives and bankers.  Altogether, about 2,500 participants will attend. 

The Russian delegation includes the Russian Finance Minister, Aleksey Kudrin, the head of Sberbank German Gref and representatives of large Russian businesses.

This year’s theme sounds, as usual, somewhat blurred – ‘The Power of Collaborative Innovation’. To put it simply, it’s global tensions – both political and economic.

Business leaders will focus on private equity investors and the growing power of India, China and oil-rich nations, including Russia.

Lee Howell, Senior Director, Head of Asia and Head of Global Agenda at the forum says Russia has an important role to play on the key issues.  Among those under discussion in Switzerland include climate change, energy security, arms non-proliferation, the war on terrorism, and sovereign wealth funds.

“The assumption is that if the U.S. economy slows down, then it will have an adverse impact on global growth. The hope is that there will be a decoupling and that it will come from the BRIC economies, and the R in BRIC is Russia,” Lee Howell added.

But with turmoil on the world's stock markets, Russia is unlikely to top the agenda.