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Climate activist Greta Thunberg, who attended the conference, joined a group of about 50 demonstrators, some of whose signs read, “Stop (f)lying to us.” Elsewhere, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said talks on the next phase of the U.S.-China trade deal will begin “in the near future,” and that Beijing will waive some tariffs as part of a deal to buy an additional US$200 billion in American products. (Reuters)

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Talking point: This year’s conference has been widely framed as a contest between U.S. President Donald Trump and Thunberg (including by this reporter), and climate-change concerns dominated the WEF’s annual global risk list. But the biggest environmental promise to emerge from the event was a WEF initiative to plant one trillion trees, backed financially by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne. Thunberg said that isn’t enough on its own to have an impact. The WEF’s International Business Council said an unspecified number of its members—including accounting majors Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG—had agreed to adopt a new reporting system for their employment standards and environmental impact. But critics say trees and transparency won’t make up for the likely effects on emissions of major economic developments, like the trade deal on which Mnuchin’s working.

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The U.S. president touted “an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” and called climate activists “prophets of doom.” In an earlier speech, Greta Thunberg called for an immediate end to fossil-fuel investments, extraction and subsidies. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and International Trade Minister Mary Ng headed to the WEF on Tuesday to represent the federal government. (Associated Press, The Guardian, The Logic)

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Talking point: Economists fact-checking Trump in real time disputed his claims of unprecedented U.S. GDP growth during his presidency, and that he deserved credit for it. His message was also out of line with this year’s event—climate change risks topped the WEF’s annual list of long-term threats. Thunberg’s message was closer, though she also called out attendees for inaction. Fellow teen activist Autumn Peltier, of Wiikwemkoong First Nation in Ontario, similarly said Canadian politicians are insufficiently focused on climate change. However, above-average stock market performance and tax cuts in the U.S. have reportedly softened Davos-going executives’ attitudes toward the president, who’s making his second appearance at the conference.

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The five Nordic countries topped the measure, but the organization said “only a handful of nations” were creating the necessary conditions for upward movement. The WEF recommended governments make personal income taxes more progressive, introduce policies that “address wealth concentration,” spend more on education alongside the private sector and create new social safety systems. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The WEF conference in Davos, Switzerland—which opened Monday—is criticized because it brings together the politically and economically influential who have not yet used their power to make the kinds of changes it recommends. The organization stopped short of endorsing a wealth tax, but its recommendations fit the broad themes of the event’s 2020 edition: making economies more fair and preparing for the future of work by reskilling. A third topic, saving the planet, will be a key focus for Ottawa’s delegation, with Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains reportedly set to talk up the Liberals’ cleantech tax cut promise. Tuesday’s schedule includes two of the loudest opposed voices on the climate crisis: U.S. President Donald Trump and climate activist Greta Thunberg are both due to speak.

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the government was planning an annual Global Investors Meet to bring together executives from big businesses, pension and sovereign wealth funds and venture capitalists. The event would be linked to the National Infrastructure Investment Fund, which was set up in 2015 to attract private sector money for roads, ports and power plants. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: The Indian government hopes the forum will attract large institutional investors to help pay for the US$1.5 trillion in infrastructure it plans to build in the next five years. The World Economic Forum in Davos is always on the calendars of Canada’s biggest fund managers—the CEOs of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) all attended this year. And, they’re already making major investments in India. The Caisse and the CPPIB are bidding against local and European firms for a 472-kilometre portfolio of highways valued at US$600 million, while in March OMERS bought a 22.4 per cent stake in another toll operator for $160 million. The funds are also interested in private infrastructure assets. The CPPIB and OMERS, as well as the British Columbia Pension Corporation and Brookfield Asset Management, have reportedly held discussions with domestic conglomerate Reliance Industries about investing in the tower and fibre build-out for its Jio telecom network.

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In April, the firm hired Corey Myckan, a former payments-industry consultant and executive at Mastercard and American Express in Canada, as country director. The Toronto office will include sales and marketing teams, as well as local regulatory compliance staff. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Canada was the world’s 25th-largest source of remittances in 2017 with US$5.16 billion in outbound cash, according to the World Bank, but it’s London-headquartered WorldRemit’s fourth-largest market; the service’s biggest recipient market, the Philippines, is also the largest recipient country for Canadian remittances. The company doesn’t disclose its transaction volumes, but claims four million customers. That’s a small share of the 258 million people that the World Economic Forum estimates live outside their country of birth, the user base for remittances. In June, the company raised US$175 million at a US$900-million-plus valuation to expand into payments between businesses. Those new markets could become increasingly important as WhatsApp, widely used by immigrants from countries with large populations of overseas workers like India, launches its own payments functionality.

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The Chinese president said his government will not devalue the yuan, will enforce international rules on intellectual property rights and will allow more foreign-controlled or -owned businesses into the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. He made the speech at an event for China’s international infrastructure plan, which already made loans of more than US$90 billion this year. (South China Morning Post)

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Talking point: The Belt and Road is China’s way of building a new world trading order, with itself at the centre. But Xi’s message at the forum seemed directed to maintaining a more established economic relationship with the United States. Currency manipulation, IP theft and market access are all high on President Donald Trump’s list of grievances in ongoing trade talks between the two countries. And, the belt itself is losing some of its shine. Countries that have participated are now voicing concerns about inflated prices for projects, and accusing China of setting a debt trap with easily-available but expensive loans. Canada has not yet signed on, despite its willingness to participate in other China-led multilateral ventures—it was one of the first countries outside the region to become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a World Bank rival.