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Bush policy tops Davos agenda

Bush policy tops Davos agenda

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- International business leaders and politicians have issued the new U.S. President with a short list of demands.

The annual World Economic Forum, meeting in Switzerland, wants George W. Bush to get to understand the world outside the U.S. -- especially Asia -- to keep the U.S. economy stable and to give a push to re-energising world trade talks.

Delegates also warned that a process of "de-coupling" America and Europe was likely to begin and that American "cultural colonialism" was resented.

More than 2,000 of the world's political, business and cultural elite are attending the 31st annual forum where the accent this year is on bridging the divide between rich countries and global companies, and the underdeveloped world.

While Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, attended the six-day forum in Davos in 2000, there is no senior presidential representative of the new administration.

Davos Davos 2001: World Economic Forum
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It may be just as well, given the critical tone of some delegates and the widespread worries expressed even among allies about the planned National Missile Defence system, which could spark a new arms war.

Arminio Fraga, Governor of the Central Bank of Brazil, said that it was "scary" how little had been achieved on trade agreements during a decade of prosperity.

He is urging Bush to think wider than the Americas in his trade deals, to make agriculture part of future agreements and to get back round the table with the World Trade Organization.

One of the biggest concerns was Bush's approach to Asia.

Shintaro Ishihara, Governor of Tokyo, said that three years ago America had "destroyed the emerging Asian economies."

He accused the U.S. of unfair competition, using the Echelon satellite information system to gather information on behalf of the U.S., UK and Canada and urged Bush to "be aware of the difference between Americanism and globalism."

Ronnie Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Development Company in Hong Kong, agreed that the US had "messed up" the Asian economies by its actions during the crisis three years ago and called for the American administration to develop more understanding of East Asia.

He said Bush should ensure that all American students were forced to take some classes on foreign languages and cultures. And he accused America of cultural colonialism, saying that the U.S. "would do well to promote cultural exchange."

He also criticised the quality of U.S. ambassadors in Asia and urged more travel abroad by Congressmen. The President, he said, should participate in multilateral organisations even when he did not like them.

The warning that America and Europe were likely increasingly to go their own ways came from Dominique Moisi, deputy director of the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales.

He foresaw a social, moral and economic de-coupling and accused America of a growing ignorance of and indifference to Europe which was likely to increase under a Bush administration.

Moisi said the Clinton years had artificially slowed down the process of estrangement.

Europe, now ready to do more of its own defence, did not have "great expectations" of the Bush administration.

The mood was more one of "moderate apprehension." It looked as though the Bush administration was moving from moralism abroad and cynicism at home to cynicism abroad and moralism at home.

David Gergen, Editor at Large for the U.S. News and World Report, told the critics that alarms about the U.S. becoming a moralistic bully were at least premature and almost certainly wrong.

Predicting that Bush would be a better foreign policy president than critics suggested, he warned that America would not deny itself a missile defence system if the technology proved itself.

But he agreed that such a controversial plan would need much discussion with America's friends.

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