President Donald Trump is returning to the Swiss Alps next week for the World Economic Forum (WEF), after skipping the event last year due to the partial government shutdown.
The five-day gathering in Davos is used by business leaders and politicians to meet and discuss some of the most pressing issues worldwide. This year, the meeting takes place at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions, trade disputes and further calls for action against climate change.
Trump will not be representing the United States alone. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will also be attending — the former will be on two panels, one on the global economy and the other moderated by CNBC on the future of financial markets.
Lighthizer could make some headline news in Davos this year. He is due to meet French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire regarding the taxation of digital firms. The meeting is an attempt to avoid an escalation in their relationship as the U.S. has threatened to hike tariffs against French products due to the implementation of a 3% digital tax by Paris. Their dispute could set a precedent for other countries such as Austria and the U.K., where there are also plans to tax digital giants.
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are also attending WEF in their roles as advisors to the president. Eugene Scalia, the secretary of labor, and Elaine Chao, the secretary of transportation, will also be traveling to Switzerland.
WEF 2020 is happening against the backdrop of geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran. Trump ordered the killing of Iran's top general Qasem Soleimani earlier this month, after an Iranian attack on the American embassy in Iraq.
Iran's Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has canceled his participation. "We have to understand the cancellation from Iran foreign minister Zarif against the backdrop of uncertainty in the region and what is unfolding in Iran," Borge Brende, WEF president, said at a news conference on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
The tense relationship between Washington and Tehran is likely to be discussed Thursday at a panel entitled "Iraq in the New Strategic Context." Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir, the minister for foreign affairs of Saudi Arabia; Nechirvan Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan regional government; and Jeanine Plasschaert, special representative of the secretary-general for Iraq and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq will be speaking on the panel.