“Why is Donald Trump coming to Davos?” is a question that has been posed many times since the US president said earlier this month he would attend the annual meeting of global elites—a gathering he gleefully trashed on the campaign trail. The very theme of this year’s World Economic Forum, “Creating a shared future in a fractured world,” seems pointedly aimed at countering Trump’s populist, nationalist agenda.
The answer, it seems, is for pretty much the same reasons that everyone else does—to hobnob with those very same corporate elites, attend a party or two, and try to burnish his brand, as top White House advisors explained on Tuesday (Jan. 23) in Washington, DC.
The president will meet with a handful of world leaders after he arrives on the morning of Jan. 25, then be feted with a reception hosted by the WEF “to honor the president,” national economic advisor Gary Cohn told reporters.
Then, Trump will host a dinner with a small group of European CEOs “to share our economic success story and to encourage them to continue to invest in America,” Cohn said.
Trump is bringing a massive delegation that includes six cabinet secretaries, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and advisors on trade, aid, and health. (His chief of staff John Kelly, who has been spearheading the White House’s hardline immigration policies, is no longer included.) The group is coming “to tell the world that America is open for business,” Cohn said.
“President Trump will reiterate that a prosperous America benefits the world. When the United States grows, so does the world,” Cohn added.
Pressed later on how Trump’s aggressive “America First” agenda could appeal to Davos’s globalist attendees, Cohn said “the president believes we can have truly win-win agreements. America first is not America alone.”
National security advisor H.R. McMaster told reporters that Trump’s meetings with global leaders include:
- Prime minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom, to discuss “the conflict in Syria, Iran’s destabilizing behavior, ways to address shortcomings in that Iran nuclear deal, and our shared goal of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.”
- Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel, to “reiterate America’s strong commitment to Israel.”
- President Kagame of Rwanda, chairman of the African Union, to “reaffirm the US-Africa relationship.” (Earlier this month, Trump referred to immigrants from Africa as coming from “shithole” countries, according to a senator who was in the meeting.)
- President Alain Berset of Switzerland, to discuss bilateral investment, economic growth, and innovation.
Trump will wrap up his visit to the Davos crowd of about 3,000 CEOs, academics, investors and world leaders with an address on the afternoon of Jan. 26. Based on Cohn’s and McMaster’s remarks, his “America First” message may be about to get a globalist spin.