What does Trump want in Davos?
Participants at the World Economic Forum in Davos have been praising the advantages of free trade and international cooperation for days. The closing speech will be delieverd on Friday evening by the US president, who champions a protectionist policy with his "America First" slogan and two days ago announced steep tariffs on solar panels and washing machines. An interesting constellation, commentators observe.
Trump is completely alone in his isolationism, Sydsvenskan counters:
“Donald Trump has chosen a risky path, because not many people are willing to follow him. Instead a movement in the opposite direction is discernible - particularly in Europe. Merkel has commented that the EU must take its fate into its own hands and extend cooperation within the Union - in economic, foreign and security policy. ... Macron, too, is pursuing this course. ... Donald Trump is the first governing US president to go to Davos in the last 18 years. The event will attract even more attention. But his message - America first - isn't getting through to those attending. For that reason the World Economic Forum is cause for hope.”
The lion's den of globalisation
If the mountain will not come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain, writes Nina L. Khrushcheva, a professor of international relations, commenting in Diário de Notícias on Trump's decision to attend the WEF:
“For the global business, financial, and political leaders who gather at the World Economic Forum's flagship conference every January, the news that Donald Trump would be joining them this year must have come as a shock. Why would the world's leading white nationalist enter the lion's den of the "globalist" elite?... Some of the world leaders at Davos have strong incentive to suck up to Trump. British Prime Minister Theresa May, in particular, may be eager to appease Trump. … Not everyone at Davos is prepared to take that approach. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will probably make themselves scarce when Trump is around.”
A difficult balancing act
In his appearance in Davos Trump must reconcile the conflicts of interest between his voters and the US economy, the Irish Examiner comments:
“For his audience back home, the US president and those around him face a difficult balancing act. Trump knows his political base would like nothing more than to see him criticise the chief executives, celebrities and more liberal politicians gathered in the Alps. At the same time, the US administration has no shortage of things it would like to achieve. The summit offers unparalleled opportunities for backroom dealing and short and surreptitious meetings.”
Genie of protectionism hard to control
Der Standard fears that Trump will unintentionally start a trade war:
“The citizens of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania have been hearing for months that they are the losers of the global economy system. ... They will demand harsh words and deeds. South Korea has filed a complaint against the washing machine decision with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Will Trump be able to accept it politically if the WTO declares the tariffs illegal, which experts believe is quite possible? If not, will other states adopt counter-measures that escalate the conflict? If this history of the world tells us something it's that once the nationalist and protectionist genie has been awakened among the people it's very difficult to get it back into the bottle.”