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WEF chief: We face common global challenges but cooperation lacking

World Economic Forum president says lack of co-operation hinders progress

Ahead of the opening of this year's World Economic Forum (WEF), I spoke with WEF president Borge Brende to get his take on the big themes that are likely to feature at the week-long conference.

Why did WEF frame this year's conference on the theme of "creating a shared future in a fractured world"?

We are facing many common challenges globally, but we are currently not always seeing the necessary co-operation to deal with these.

We are seeing increased geopolitical competition. We are seeing a global economy that is again growing quite substantially, and we believe that this is the time to make globalisation more equitable, more inclusive, more sustainable.

These kinds of systemic challenges can be tackled only if we find common solutions, and if we deal with them in a multi-stakeholder way. This is what the WEF is all about, it is business, government and civil society coming together, to collaborate to find solutions.

Quite a few of the discussions on the agenda this week seem to relate to the issue of "trust". Why is that?

There is a trust deficit in the world today. We are now in a multi-polar world, where we are seeing more geopolitical competition, and we are unfortunately also seeing proxy conflicts.

We need to re-create trust and the basis for cooperation between governments - but also between government and business, and with civil society.

What about trust between leaders and the people?

Yes, that is also crucial. Because of the economic crisis, the trust of the people towards their leaders has been eroded.

There is a trust deficit here too. This has led to a rise in nationalist, populist and protectionist forces, which are gaining ground.

What is now necessary is to make sure that the growth we are now seeing - which is definitely picking up, and is also creating more jobs - we need to make sure the wealth is trickling down.

It important that everyone sees for themselves that they are gaining and benefiting positively from international trade, and from international co-operation.

That leads me to the question of US President Donald Trump's planned appearance at this week's event. Why did WEF decide to invite him?

We invited the US President in October and have been working with the White House since then to schedule a visit. We got the confirmation that he was coming in early January.

For us, it is important to have the head of state of the largest economy in the world at the conference.

The US is going through fundamental tax reforms. They are also reviewing their trade policy, and embarking on infrastructure investment.

So a lot of participants in Davos are interested to hear from the US President his views on global cooperation in the years to come.

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