Davos spotlight turns to rebuilding Haiti

2010-01-28 14:24

RESTORING earthquake-ravaged Haiti and guiding Africa toward

prosperity were the focus on Thursday at the World Economic Forum as more world

leaders arrived amid thick falling snow at the Swiss Alpine resort.

South African President Jacob Zuma urged governments and business

leaders to work on keeping the effects of the global financial crisis at bay,

while former US President Bill Clinton, in a speech later on Thursday, will urge

the 2 500 attendees to invest in Haiti.

The forum is appealing to its wealthy corporate members to pitch in

aid, and especially to invest for the long term in Haiti after the

earthquake.

Members have donated tens of millions of dollars directly to the

aid effort since the disaster, said the forum’s managing director, Robert

Greenhill.

“We’re not looking in the short term. We’re looking for long-term

engagement,” he told The Associated Press, calling response to the appeal

“unparalleled.”

“Businesses are realizing that in addition to their charity role

they also have a role in helping to build economies.”

Greenhill said businesses should model their efforts on rebuilding

the Indonesian region of Aceh, which emerged with a better infrastructure and

economic base than before the 2004 tsunami.

“It’s by no means a mission impossible,” he said, saying Haiti had

tremendous tourism potential with sustained investment.

Zuma touted his country’s embrace of democracy since the end of

apartheid but noted that to keep South Africa’s economic development moving

forward, it would need both reform and government intervention.

“You cannot do with one or the other,” he said, saying that

infrastructure is still needed in the country that hosts the 2010 World Cup.

“Our economy is a mixed economy.”

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, the first president of that

country to speak to the annual gathering, said the G-20 would continue to focus

on economic recovery ahead of its meeting in Seoul in November.

Lee said the G-20 has become the premier forum for international

economic cooperation because of its “proven accomplishments.”

“The recent financial crisis has reminded us how closely our

national economies are integrated in the global economy,” Lee said.

“It is not only the events in our near neighbours that have an

impact on our lives. The degree of integration is now such that we saw how

events on the other side of the world can impact our daily lives.”

The G-20 is an international body that meets to discuss economic

issues. Its members – 19 countries with some of the world’s biggest industrial

and emerging economies, plus the European Union – represent about 90 percent of

the world’s gross national product, 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of

the global population.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, meanwhile, had to

cancel his Davos trip due to hypertension and was hospitalized in the Brazilian

city of Recife overnight, his office reported.

Television images showed him being released from the hospital early this morning.

Silva had been set to receive a new “Global Statesmanship Award” at

Davos.


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