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Rich countries' woes in Davos spotlight

Jan 28 2011 10:58 Sapa-AP

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Davos - In a nod to the post-crisis atmosphere, British Prime Minister David Cameron will tell the World Economic Forum that his country's austerity measures are starting to bear fruit, while US Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner will lay out his country's strategy to help the economy.
Friday is setting out to be a decidedly political one for the forum, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who has been at the heart of the past year's struggle to save the euro - giving her own speech too.
But Cameron, whose Conservative-led coalition government has imposed a series of tough measures - from tax hikes to budget caps - to reduce the country's debt, will have centre stage first.
"Already we're making progress," he said, in extracts released by his office ahead of the speech on Friday to the annual gathering.

"Not long ago we were heading towards the danger zone where markets start to question your credibility."

Cameron said Britain's triple A credit rating had been saved and market interest rates had fallen.
"All this has happened not in spite of our plan to cut the deficit, but because of it. That's why we must stick to the course we have set out."

Still, unemployment has also risen and thousands will see some form of state benefit cut as the government tightens the belt on spending.
But that is a trade-off many other European countries are increasingly resigned to, as they try to juggle crippling public debt levels in the wake of the global financial crisis.
The Davos meeting's mood has improved since last year, but the 2 500 government and business leaders attending remained wary this week of the possibility that the global recession might return.
For Europe, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Merkel will mark opposing poles on the spectrum of economic recovery when they take the stage on Friday.
The woes of wealthy countries will contrast with the more upbeat tones in speeches by leaders of developing economies such as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mexico's Felipe Calderon.
Not far from the conference venue, social activists are planning to use the forum as an occasion to name and shame the corporation with the worst social or ecological record in 2011.

The same event will see the launch of OpenLeaks, billed as a rival to the secrecy-spilling website WikiLeaks.



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