Founded by Klaus Schwab in 1971, the World Economic Forum’s original mission was to introduce successful American management techniques to European firms. The annual global gathering—now known to most simply as “Davos”—has grown into a four-day conference that hosts about 3,000 of the world’s elite in business, government, and civil society.
President Donald J. Trump’s address on January 26, 2018, marks only the second time a sitting U.S. president has attended the event in person. Ronald Reagan addressed Davos multiple years via video, and Bill Clinton has become a regular attendee after first visiting the conference in 2000. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have never attended.
President Trump has one important reason for becoming the first sitting U.S. commander-in-chief to attend Davos in nearly 20 years. He wants to deliver world leaders a message: A prosperous America benefits the world, and fair economic competition is essential to that prosperity.
Specifically, the President will explain how his “America First” vision fits into Davos’ 2018 theme of “creating a shared future in a fractured world”:
- America is committed to global growth and prosperity. As the world’s largest economy, the United States has a particular responsibility to get things right domestically: When the U.S. economy grows, so does the world’s.
- The Trump Administration supports free and open trade—but it must be fair and reciprocal trade, too. The global economy cannot flourish unless all countries follow the rules and are held responsible when they don’t.
- Leaders must reform—not abandon—the international economic system. America’s goal is to improve that system by making it more accountable and efficient, which will make the global economy work for all sovereign nations.
Davos also gives President Trump an opportunity to forge closer ties with U.S. allies and build global support for American businesses. Among the high-profile attendees expected for 2018 are French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
The American delegation will be led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Six other members of President Trump’s Cabinet will join him, including the U.S. Trade Representative.
“The President’s message is very much the same here as it will be [in Davos],” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says. “He welcomes the opportunity to go there and advance his America First agenda with world leaders.”