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Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 15:09 GMT
Davos diary, day four
Barbed wire barricade in Davos
Barbed wire fences are protecting Davos
The World Economic Forum in Davos is the meeting place for the movers and shakers of the globalised economy. Writing exclusively for BBC News Online, Vernon Ellis, the international chairman of management consultancy Accenture, reports his daily Davos experience.

Day 4: Saturday, 27 January

While demonstrators grabbed the headlines, everyday life seemed determined to reassert itself here on Saturday.

Children were playing in the streets, hauling their toboggans behind them. Families were shopping.

Elderly couples braved the winter cold for a brisk constitutional walk and a heavy snowfall quickly covered Davos in a thick white blanket.

Early morning in the Congress Centre, there was dialogue between business leaders, President Mbeki and other South African government ministers.

Some outside Davos see such meetings as threatening, implying attempts by multi-nationals to stitch up the governments of poor nations.

What nonsense.

Agricultural issues

It is vital to Africa and the world that the progress achieved in South Africa is maintained. Business will play its part. Particularly through trade and investment.

Another vital topic is the future of Europe. This morning there were round-table discussions with three European Commissioners.

There is solid agreement about the need for continued structural reform, less about the "essence" of what Europe is for.

One subject that arose here and at a later informal gathering with political leaders was agriculture.

It was the fourth time in 24 hours that this touchy issue forced itself on to the table.

There is a growing realisation by business everywhere that rich countries can not continue to preach the virtues of free trade while maintaining tariffs on food.

The Common Agricultural Policy is not only a huge waste of resources but also a serious barrier to European Union enlargement.

I think politicians realise this too, but it is a very tough nettle to grasp.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | Business
Davos diary, day one
26 Jan 01 | Business
Davos diary, day two
28 Jan 01 | Business
Davos diary, day three
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