Trade Beijing denounces trade barriers quotdiscriminatoryquotWashington defends its measures

Trade: Beijing denounces trade barriers "discriminatory"Washington defends its measures

Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang cast himself as a defender of global trade in Davos on Tuesday, denouncing “discriminatory” trade barriers (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang cast himself as a defender of global trade in Davos on Tuesday, denouncing “discriminatory” barriers, but Americans defended their restrictions on chip exports in the name of “national security.”

For his part, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky implored his allies to continue helping his country against the “predator” Putin even after almost two years of war.

Beijing's plea for free trade

Li Qiang is the highest-ranking Chinese official to attend the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in the Swiss Alpine resort since President Xi Jinping in 2017.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang at the Davos Economic Forum, January 16, 2024 in Switzerland (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

He particularly denounced “discriminatory measures on trade and investment,” since “any obstacles or disruptions can slow or block vital flows for the global economy.”

He did not name specific countries, but trade with the United States and the European Union has been a contentious issue for Beijing in recent years. In particular, Washington has curbed the export of certain very advanced chips used, for example, in weapons or artificial intelligence.

A few hours later, at the same lectern, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan assured that the “tailored” restrictions on chips were in no way a “technological blockade.”

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 16, 2024 (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

The measures “are not aimed at restricting broader trade or investment” but at preventing “our strategic competitors (…) from using American technologies to undermine our national security,” he argued.

As Brussels launched an investigation into Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she had a “candid” conversation with Mr Li about “trade imbalances”.

Zelensky wants more help against the “predator” Putin

The Ukrainian President at the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 16, 2024 in Switzerland (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

To persuade his allies to continue helping him, the Ukrainian president, who came to Davos in person for the first time this year, argued that Vladimir Putin was a “predator” who would not be satisfied with a “frozen” conflict. where the front line has been generally immobile for several months.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy once again called on the West to supply more weapons to his country and to help it achieve “air superiority” over Russia with fighter jets.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised him continued American support at a bilateral meeting, despite stalled negotiations in the US Congress to validate an aid package.

“We are committed to maintaining our support for Ukraine and are working very closely with Congress on this issue,” Mr. Blinken told him. “I know our European colleagues will do the same.”

Ukraine needs “predictable financing” in 2024 and beyond to win the war, Ursula von der Leyen also stressed, two weeks before a European summit on financial aid that will take place in Kiev. A particularly sensitive announcement due to Hungary's veto threats.

In Davos, Ukraine faces competition from new conflicts, particularly in the Middle East, such as the war in Gaza and Houthi attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea.

“We are trying to stop the spread of the conflict and create the conditions for de-escalation,” Mr. Sullivan assured, despite recent US-British attacks against the Houthis in Yemen, which pose a “global challenge” that is “a vital artery “Concerns of international trade”.

AI racing

Conflicts aside, AI is high on the agenda in Switzerland.

Li Qiang called for “good governance” for this booming technology and ensured that China wants to “develop communication and cooperation with all parties to improve AI governance mechanisms.”

European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen at the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 16, 2024 in Switzerland (AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI)

Advances in so-called generative artificial intelligence, which brings ChatGPT to the general public, are the focus of many discussions in the snow of Davos.

European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen warned that the EU must “redouble its efforts” to avoid falling behind in this race.

For his part, Microsoft boss Satya Nadella defended his partnership with OpenAI, the inventor of chatGPT, whose investments of around $ 13 billion have been in the sights of European regulators since 2019.

“Partnerships are a way to create competition,” he said during an event organized by Bloomberg.