The Sun News

Trump to attend Davos

(NYTimes)

President Trump is expected to attend the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, in the coming weeks, an administration official said on Tuesday.

In a statement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the president was looking forward to attending the gathering of world leaders and business executives.

“The president welcomes opportunities to advance his America First agenda with world leaders,” Ms. Sanders said. “At this year’s World Economic Forum, the president looks forward to promoting his policies to strengthen American businesses, American industries and American workers.”

Mr. Trump’s planned appearance at an event that is synonymous with wealth and elite prestige comes as he enters the second year of a term he won on a message of economic populism.

Presidents have rarely attended the forum in Davos, in part out of a concern that it would send the wrong message to be rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s richest individuals.

Mr. Trump won the 2016 election in part by attacking elites in the United States and promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington of lobbyists, corporate influence and members of the establishment — the very description of those who regularly attend the Davos forum.

The event is a global symbol of everything that Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, railed against during the presidential campaign and the first seven months in the administration.

But Mr. Trump has also spent a lifetime as a real estate mogul and television personality seeking to be accepted by the financial and media elite in New York and around the world. His decision to travel to Davos as president may represent his desire to prove that he has achieved that goal.

Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers were befuddled by his planned trip, coming a year after his team decided not to send a representative to the 2017 gathering.

The annual economic forum takes place in the resort town of Davos high in the Swiss Alps, bringing together more than 2,500 members of the global elite in what has been described as the world’s most high-powered networking event.

Those who attend include journalists and columnists, Hollywood celebrities, researchers, corporate chief executive officers and other business titans, and some heads of state. Former President Bill Clinton attended the forum in 2000, but former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush did not attend the meetings during the time they were in the White House.

Founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, a German economics professor, the forum has become an annual conference that includes parties, dinners and panel discussions, largely about world social and economic trends. Officially, it is an academic conference; unofficially it is a global schmoozefest for the rich and powerful.

The conference is still dominated by corporate executives, but the gathering also now attracts world leaders, some of whom use the venue as a way to hold less formal bilateral conversations.

Last year, President Xi Jinping of China attended the forum, which began just days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, becoming the first Chinese leader to mingle with the corporate and media crowd in the mountain village.

In a speech at the forum, Mr. Xi portrayed his country as a global leader interested in free trade at a time that Mr. Trump was already calling for a turn inward. Mr. Xi challenged the incoming president not to forsake trade with the rest of the world.

“Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room,” Mr. Xi said in Davos last year. “While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air. No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.”

The forum has also become a way to be seen with the growing number of global celebrities; last year, it was attended by Matt Damon and Forest Whitaker, the actors, and the singer Shakira.

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