Some of the world’s top business people and politicians – plus a smattering of celebrities – will gather in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week.
US President Donald Trump, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi are among the guests.
Here are five things to look out for:
Trump trade tensions directed at Europe
The China-US trade ceasefire last week should hold temporarily, if only because it was so modest. So expect President Trump, facing an impeachment trial back home, to ramp up the pressure on the European Union, who he has long viewed as treating the US “unfairly”.
This cold trade war has taken on a number of forms over the past year from Airbus and Boeing to steel and aluminium, the EU response to renewed sanctions on Iran, Carbon tax, digital tax and the willingness to deploy technology from the Chinese tech giant Huawei.
What we know is that the White House believes that European goods trade surpluses with the US are an example of an unfair rip off, especially car imports.
The new EU team was pretty aggressive in hitting back last week at the White House “Sabre rattling”, “bluff” and “short term thinking”. The stage is set for a turbulent new backdrop for world trade tumult.
The UK turns up, but which one?
Into this storm enters the UK, just about to reassert itself as an independent player on the world stage.
After some bluster about banning ministers from attending Davos, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, though not the PM, will be here with a message that “Britain is back”, after three years of uncertainty with a government empowered with a healthy majority to act decisively.
But in what way, exactly? The World Economic Forum will host many of the sorts of British businesses most sceptical about the chancellor’s plan for the UK to pull away from European regulations and standards.
If there is a vision for UK-specific regulations, divorced from the three global superpowers – EU, US & China – then it should be able to be sold to some of the players with billions to invest here. Then what about the bigger geopolitical picture?
Downing St has tried very hard to navigate between the EU and US on Iran, for example. But some choices are required on the trade-offs between maintaining existing business forged in the EU, and new trade links with the US.