United States President Donald Trump and top officials of his government will be absent at this year’s World Economic Forum due to the lingering government shutdown. However, the absence of the leader of the world’s largest economy won’t matter so much according to analysts, rather, it is an accurate reflection of global affairs over the last 12 months.
Thousands of business, political and cultural leaders are scheduled to return to the Swiss Alpine town of Davos on Monday. The annual forum is seen as an opportunity for international heads of state to come together to try and put the world to rights.
“The U.S. does not need this quasi-public forum to communicate its thoughts, in fact I think it would be better if the current administration would communicate it’s every thought a little less often,” Steven Blitz, chief U.S. economist at TS Lombard, told CNBC via email.
“The bigger loser of the U.S. not attending in some official capacity is Davos, as Trump basically is telling them it is an expensive boondoggle that is nice to attend, but not necessary for the U.S. government. He is right,” Blitz said.
The government shutdown — already the longest in U.S. history — continues to rumble on, with Democrats and Trump unable to bring an end to the political impasse over the weekend.
The U.S. president offered “compromises” in exchange for funding for his security wall along the Mexican border on Saturday. But, Democrats quickly rejected the proposal, saying the terms were “unacceptable,” and “hostage taking.”
Trump’s offer comes at a time of escalating external pressure to end the partial closure that has inflicted financial pain on government workers, and disrupted services from food inspection to airport security.
The president’s demand for money to construct the border wall — and Democrats’ refusal to fund it — led to the funding lapse that polls say Americans are increasingly blaming on Trump.
“Out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed, President Trump has canceled his delegation’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement late Thursday.
Nonetheless, even in Trump’s absence, the U.S. president is still likely to be a major talking point in the snowy mountain village of Davos this week.
Whether it’s the ongoing government shutdown, the U.S.-China trade dispute or Trump’s reported wish to withdraw from NATO, it’ll be hard for the global elite to avoid discussing the U.S. president’s actions at the annual forum.
“The absence of a U.S. delegation at Davos is an accurate reflection of global affairs over the last year,” Cailin Birch, global economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNBC via email Monday.
“Mr Trump has shown an increasing frustration with foreign alliances and treaty organisations, ranging from NAFTA to NATO, which he views as a constraint on U.S. power,” Birch said, before adding: “We expect the U.S. to become increasingly isolated on the international stage, as Mr Trump pursues his America First strategy.”