The Swiss Federal Council holds the view that the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is of great importance. Four Federal Council members will be attending the event this year; around 50 bilateral meetings are expected to take place. President Ueli Maurer will open the event with WEF founder Prof. Klaus Schwab on Tuesday, 22 January.
President Ueli Maurer will hold around 20 bilateral meetings with heads of state and government and finance ministers. He will also sign a bilateral insurance agreement with his British counterpart Philip Hammond, and a supplementary protocol to the bilateral double taxation agreement with Ukraine in the presence of President Petro Poroshenko.
President Ueli Maurer will also hold talks with a number of fellow finance ministers. These include Israeli finance minister Moshe Kahlon (Israel) and the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, as well as further counterparts from the EU and G20.
On the fringes of the WEF Annual Meeting Mr Maurer will attend an event on digitalisation and exchange views with members of the business community. On Wednesday he will be away from Davos to attend an event in Vaduz marking the 300th anniversary of the Principality of Liechtenstein.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), will meet with representatives from the worlds of politics, business and academia as an opportunity to address the guiding concept of ‘visions, innovations, prospects’, and expand on it at further events. On 23 January Mr Cassis will open ‘Tech4Good’, an exhibition on innovative approaches in development cooperation through scientific and technical collaboration.
Bilateral talks are set to take place with the foreign ministers of Paraguay, Algeria, Jordan, Costa Rica and Georgia, where the focus, among other subjects, will be on bilateral relations. Mr Cassis will have a working breakfast with the European Commissioner responsible for European neighbourhood policy, to discuss European policy related issues. The ideas gathered by Federal Councillor Cassis during the Annual Meeting will enrich discussions on the conditions that need to be put in place to ensure Switzerland’s capacity to innovate and act, and on the impact on Switzerland’s foreign policy of potential global developments in the years ahead.
Federal Councillor Alain Berset, the head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), will be placing the emphasis on current health policy challenges while in Davos. He will hold bilateral meetings with a number of his counterparts including Rwandan health minister Diane Gashumba, German health minister Jens Spahn, Dutch health minister Bruno Bruins and British health secretary Matt Hancock. He is expected to take part in a WEF event on healthcare provision. And a meeting is also set to take place with UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), will take the opportunity following his recent change of Department to foster contacts with his new counterparts while at the Annual Meeting in Davos. The head of the EAER will meet with the German economic affairs and energy minister, Peter Altmaier, the Malaysian trade minister Datuk Darell Leiking, the Russian economic development minister, Maxim Oreshkin, and the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, among others. Talks are also lined up with the presidents of the multilateral developments banks as well as with representatives from various major corporations. He will then host the traditional informal WTO ministerial meeting on Friday, 25 January.
The WEF Annual Meeting provides numerous opportunities for further contacts and discussions; last-minute changes to the programme are therefore possible. The details listed above are therefore subject to change.
New facilities for events and bilateral meetings
At this year’s WEF Annual Meeting the Confederation will have new facilities at its disposal, which will be used by the members of the Federal Council and the Swiss Delegation as a communication and networking platform. The aim is to underline Switzerland’s role as host country and expand the presence of the Swiss authorities.
In cooperation with the WEF, a ‘Swiss Lounge’ will be set up in the conference centre, which President Maurer will be able to use to hold bilateral meetings. In addition, facilities have been made available for the duration of the Annual Meeting at the Vaillant Arena, not far from the conference and media centres, which will serve as a ‘House of Switzerland’ run by Presence Switzerland. This venue will be used by the members of the Federal Council and the Swiss Delegation to host receptions and to hold informal meetings or media interviews.
The House of Switzerland will serve as a communications platform to reach foreign target audiences from politics, business and academia. A series of events will be held under the motto ‘Tech4Good’ in conjunction with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE).
International Geneva will also be showcased at ‘Geneva Day’, highlighting its role as a hub for setting international standards on global governance in the face of rapid technological change. S-GE will use the platform to promote Switzerland’s business credentials with a talk under the heading of ‘Cryptowinter in Davos’, which aims to present to foreign tech firms Switzerland’s crypto- and blockchain ecosystem.