Trump expected to be a main attraction at Davos meeting of the world's elite

Trump to address gathering of global elite in Swiss Alps.

Each year the town high in the Alps hosts the World Economic Forum, attended by global political and business leaders, philanthropists, celebrities and media.

So it took the world by surprise when Trump announced he would be attending the summit this year.

Who is going?

A record 70 heads of state or government are said to be participating in Davos 2018, with the higher attendance possibly sparked by curiosity over what message Trump will bring to the conference, giving the closing speech on the 26th.

What to look out for

Many will be watching closely for signals from the U.S. president at the forum.

As well as the keynote speeches, there will be bilateral meetings and backdoor diplomacy on the sidelines between world leaders.

Meanwhile, in the U.K., embattled Prime Minister May was snubbed by Trump when he recently canceled plans to open the new American embassy in London. After humiliating reports in the U.K. press that Trump wouldn’t meet her in Davos, the White House today said they would in fact meet next week in Switzerland.

Competing narratives

Macron will likely emphasize this in his speech, extolling the virtues of global cooperation and projecting confidence in the EU as a rising financial and political power.

However, it is Trump who is expected to be the headline act this year.

At his last address to a major gathering of world players at the UN General Assembly in September last year, he gave a vigorous defense of American sovereignty and warned that the U.S. would no longer make any more deals that were not in its own interest.

Headlines were dominated by his threat to “totally destroy North Korea,” referring to its leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man”.

Will there be a showdown?

While Macron is likely to make a strong speech promoting his competing political agenda, he has gone out of his way to forge a diplomatic working relationship with Trump, throwing a highly successful and lavish state visit at the Elysee Palace for him last year. It’s unlikely the two will directly spar.

He delivered a strong message for global unity and cooperation over protectionism, seemingly aimed at the U.S. president-elect who had been threatening to slap heavy tariffs on Chinese goods.

Xi will not be attending this year, perhaps averting what could have been a clash between the two competing superpowers that together account for about 40 percent of the world economy.

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