Davos, 24 May 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for “maximum” sanctions targeting Russia in his speech to open the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos on Monday.
Sanctions needed to include an embargo on Russian energy exports, he said at the annual gathering, where the economic impact of the war in Ukraine is set to top the agenda.
Many countries have already banned the import of Russian fossil fuels, and though the European Union has managed to agree on a coal ban, member states are still struggling to find consensus on introducing an embargo on Russian oil.
Zelensky expressed gratitude for the international support for Ukraine, and was given a rare standing ovation at the end of his address to the gathered world and business leaders.
Zelensky invited foreign companies to participate in the reconstruction of destroyed Ukrainian cities after the end of the war. Frozen Russian assets should be used to finance Ukraine’s reconstruction, he said.
When it came to global food shortages – partly as a result of the war in major grain exporter Ukraine, Zelensky called for negotiations to end the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports in an attempt to maintain the international food chain.
Amid accusations that Russian Vladimir Putin has been using hunger as a weapon in his war, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck also addressed the issue of global food supplies.
Hunger around the world was “terrible enough,” but was only one of the “interwoven” problems that needed solving including high inflation, the energy crisis and climate change, Habeck said at a panel on Monday morning.
“If none of the problems are solved, I’m really afraid that we are running into a global recession,” which will have “a tremendous effect” not only on action on climate change but on global stability as a whole, he said.
However, International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva stressed that she didn’t believe a global recession was imminent in her Davos address later on Monday.
Economists refer to a recession when economic output shrinks for two consecutive quarters.
The IMF’s 3.6% global economic growth forecast – 0.8% less than forecast in January – was far from being a recession, Georgieva stressed.
“What we could see is a recession in some countries that are weak to begin with.” This applied, she said, to states that had not yet recovered from the pandemic and that were highly dependent on energy and food imports from Russia.
Georgieva accepted that, overall, 2022 would be a “tough year” due to multiple crises and warned that the situation in Ukraine was very challenging and the pandemic had major economic consequences leading to lower growth and rising inflation.
According to the IMF forecast, the global economy is set to grow much more slowly this year than last due to the war in Ukraine. At the same time, the IMF expects higher inflation in 2022, driven by energy and food prices.
Traditionally, Davos takes place in mid-January, but it was postponed due to the pandemic. Organizers aid almost 2,500 participants from the realms of politics and business as well as civil society representatives are attending.