Davos meeting ends with sense of cautious optimism

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The annual meeting of the 41st World Economic Forum (WEF) ended on Sunday in the Swiss Alpine ski resort of Davos with a sense of cautious optimism.

Over the past five days, more than 2,500 participants including world leaders, government officials, business executives, academics, civil society figures and media had wide-ranging discussions on such issues as global economic recovery, global risks and the Doha Round of global trade talks, under the theme of "Shared Norms for a New Reality."

Participants generally agree that the global economy is rebounding, led by developing economies including China and India -- the major driving forces for global economic recovery, with developed countries growing much more slowly.

The global economy is on a clear track of recovery, said Wei Jiafu, group president and CEO of the China Ocean Shipping Group Co., who is also one of the co-chairs of this year's WEF Annual Meeting.

The global recovery is continuing at a fairly good pace, and risks of a double dip are now much lower than six months ago, Nariman Behravesh, chief economist of the IHS Global Insight, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

According to the PwC's 14th Annual Global CEO Survey published just before the WEF meeting, the CEOs' confidence in future growth has returned to nearly pre-crisis levels.

While the recovery is gaining pace, political and business leaders also agree that significant challenges remain for all economies.

Problems of sovereign debt and government budget deficits in developed countries are expected to linger for some time, despite European political leaders' firm determination to solve these them.

"European leaders have taken on the 'Herculean task to adopt all of these changes' in response to the sovereign debt crisis," said Jacob Wallenberg, chairman of Sweden's Investor AB.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in Davos that France and Germany would never allow the euro to collapse and warned currency operators that they would be taking huge risks if they speculated against it.

Inflation, commodity and food price hikes in particular, a big problem hanging over prospects of global economic recovery, with emerging markets bearing the brunt.

"Research and development for the agricultural industry is very important," said Yorihiko Kojima, chairman of Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation.

Over 20 WTO trade ministers representing major members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and WTO Director General Pascal Lamy met Saturday on the sidelines of the WEF meeting, agreeing to finish the long-stalled Doha Round of global trade talks within this year.

"The exchanges between ministers showed their willingness to work toward a comprehensive and balanced conclusion of the Doha Round," they said in a statement.

Lamy acknowledged that the following negotiations would not be easy, calling on all members to show flexibility.

China attracted even greater attention this year, with the spotlight on its participation in global trade, as this year marks the 10th anniversary of China's accession into the the WTO.

China's Minister of Commerce Chen Deming described China's decision to join the WTO as a "courageous and tough choice," but said it was "the right choice." He also said China would do its best to see the WTO's difficult Doha Round through to a successful conclusion.

According to officials with the WEF, the Davos Annual Meeting provides a "rethinking of our systems" and exploration of strategies and solutions that have positive transformational implications.

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