The ‘Who’s Who’ meet at the World Economic Forum. The Swiss government painted a bad picture in Davos. Even Spain did better and met the economic elite.
The World Economic Forum WEF 2023 is over and it is worth taking stock of the high-level meetings. After all, Switzerland is the host country, but in Davos, other countries steal the show from Swiss federal councillors.
Alain’s party noodle
Current Swiss President Alain Berset met with UN Secretary General António Guterres. Other meetings were with the presidents of South Africa, Ecuador and Colombia.
From Europe, President Berset met, among others, the President of Poland and the heads of state of Lithuania, Latvia, and Moldova, as the federal administration pointed out.
In addition, Berset spoke with the Finnish Prime Minister, a party noodle, and with the Prime Minister of Georgia.
Only photo with Scholz
Anyone who thinks Berset will meet for talks with the highest-ranking politician at the WEF 2023 is mistaken. In fact, the only head of a G7 country present in Davos was German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
But German Chancellor Scholz officially gave the scandal-plagued Swiss politician Berset a wide berth – albeit for just a quick photo.
Cassis with colleagues
Federal Councillor Viola Amherd, after all Vice-President of the Federal Council, met with minor figures such as the Dutch Defense Minister and, together with SVP Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis only met other counterparts from the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Spain as well as representatives of the Ukrainian government.
IMF and OECD
For Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter, head of the Federal Department of Finance FDF, it was a bit more exciting. It is true that she also spoke with the finance ministers of several European countries, with whom she probably meets all the time anyway.
But at least she also met the Director General of the International Monetary Fund IMF, the OECD Secretary General and the Chinese Vice Prime Minister, as well as the Finance Ministers of Brazil and Qatar.
Climate protection at the EAER
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), together with Federal Councillor Albert Rösti, met with Robert Habeck, the German Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection.
But Parmelin also chatted with the U.S. Trade Representative, the Vice Prime Minister of Vietnam, the Saudi Minister of Investment, the Czech Minister of Trade and Industry, and the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development EBRD, among others.
Investment as a goal
If you look in Spanish newspapers, on the other hand, you can hardly escape amazement. Spanish President Pedro Sánchez met 47 business leaders during his short time in Davos – according to many newspapers.
He promoted investments in Spain at the WEF 2023 and the priorities are apparently clearer on the Iberian peninsula than in Switzerland.
Wellauer and Schwab
The business newspaper Expansión, discovered by muula.ch, listed all 47 business bosses with whom Sánchez held his talks in Switzerland.
These ranged from the CEO of the chip manufacturer Qualcomm, Christiano Amon, to the head of the world’s largest asset manager, Blackrock, Lawrence Fink, the CEO of Dow Chemical, Jim Fitterling, the head of the pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, Marc Dunoyer, the president of HP, Enrique Lores, the founder of the Indian steel group Arcelor Mittal, Lakshmi Mittal, to the CEO of the Arab Mubadala Group, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, also known in Switzerland.
But Sánchez also spoke with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Swiss stock exchange SIX, which bought the Spanish stock exchange, Thomas Wellauer, the CEO of Fujitsu, Tahahito Tokita, the President of the French gas group Air Liquide, Benoit Potier, and of course with Klaus Schwab, the founder and CEO of the WEF itself, which can open many doors worldwide.
Shaking hands with all of these personalities in one place is a huge advantage and certainly brings a lot.
Santander and BBVA
However, during their 24 hours or so in Davos, the Spaniards themselves were not above meeting their own economic bigwigs, although they could hold talks at home.
Sánchez met with the president of the Santander banking group, Ana Botín, the president of Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete, the CEO of oil company Repsol, Josu Jon Imaz, and the president of the major bank BBVA, Carlos Torres Vila.
Playing the trump card
The Swiss government has to hide in the face of such meetings because economic interests are supposed to be the main focus at a World Economic Forum.
The strength of the Swiss franc already makes economic activity in this country more difficult than in other countries. Politics could help here with contacts.
But in view of the excellently-educated Swiss population, the multilingualism of the country, the high labor productivity and the ideal location right in the middle of Europe, Switzerland would have a lot to show even compared to Spain.