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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: WEF Davos  
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EDITIONS
Thursday, 29 January, 1998, 17:39 GMT
World Economic Forum highlights
For first-time participants at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the number of events on offer must appear overwhelming.

The programme is detailed on 300 pages, offering numerous lectures, debates and workshops. Sessions start every morning at 08:30 and end in the evening at 21:30. On most days, the programme is followed by "night-caps", which are yet more informal discussions albeit it in a very relaxed and - for some - whisky-inspired atmosphere.

There are hardly any interludes. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are accompanied by lectures. Some companies, organisations and countries offer their own events, in addition to the official programme.

Just one break is on offer: Sunday is "sports day". Davos's skiing pistes are tempting businessmen and politicians alike - until 1530, when its all talk again.

Managing Asia's financial crisis

One of the most important issues on this year's agenda is the economic crisis in Asia. High-ranking government officials from across the region, leading economists, bankers and investors will debate what kind of regulations and safeguards should be put into place to avoid a repeat of such a financial meltdown.

Preparing for European Monetary Union

The convergence of European economic and monetary policies is of acute interest to politicians and business people alike. All the political heavyweights involved in the Euro debate are expected to show their faces in Davos. The finance ministers of Germany and France will be there, several European commissioners, the director of the European Monetary Institute, and many others.

A notable absentee will be Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. He wanted to come, but cancelled at the last minute. His officials say that he has to put in extra hours at his desk in the Treasury in order to prepare for his budget statement on March 17.

Revitalising global institutions

At first glance this seems not to be one of the most exciting of topics, even for hardened veterans of the conference circuit. However, considering the failure of the Bush doctrine of a New World Order, the rapid advance of economic globalisation and the international efforts to calm the financial markets, there appears to be a certain need for global institutions in the future. But what role should they play?

The United Nations is sending its best people: Secretary General Kofi Annan; Human Rights commissioner Mary Robinson; and the High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata. The World Bank, World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development will all be represented by their presidents or their deputies.

Economic reforms in Latin America

This session features a particularly high-powered political cast. The Presidents of Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Panama will be in Davos, accompanied by numerous ministers and bank officials.

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