World leaders to address virtual forum after Davos gathering cancelled

Organisers of the World Economic Forum are expecting leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for a virtual gathering next week — after Covid-19 cancelled the annual in-person event of Davos, Switzerland.

Forum founder Klaus Schwab said the aim of the virtual Davos Agenda week meeting starting on January 25 is to restore trust and engage all stakeholders in business, government, civil society and beyond to help build a “more peaceful and prosperous post-corona era”.

The event runs throughout the week with daily themes on subjects like economic systems, responsible growth, cooperation and the harnessing of technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a common theme at Davos events.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron (Matt Cardy/PA)
Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron (Matt Cardy/PA)

Borge Brende, the forum president, said Mr Xi and Mr Modi will be joined also by Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the event, and such leaders will consider “the role that Asia will play in the recovery”.

Others expected include Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Emmanuel Macron and President Ivan Duque of Colombia.

Exceptionally this year, forum organisers are planning to hold the annual event that draws thousands of elites in-person this spring in Singapore.