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Macron tells Davos elite to share the wealth

  • Helene Fouquet

    Bloomberg

Davos, Siwtzerland   /   Wed, January 24, 2018   /   10:00 pm
Macron tells Davos elite to share the wealth French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he delivers a speech on the European Union in the amphitheatre of the Sorbonne University in Paris on Sept. 26, 2017. French President Emmanuel Macron has set out his vision for a rebooted European Union, targeting sceptical German politicians who made strong gains in weekend elections. (Agence France -Presse/Ludovic Marin)

Emmanuel Macron arrives in Davos Wednesday with a new message for the global elite: invest, share and protect.

France’s 40-year-old president already wooed executives including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at the Palace of Versailles this week as he sought to attract investment. But he plans to shift emphasis when he arrives by helicopter for his debut speech at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Macron will tell business leaders it’s up to them to narrow the inequalities that have resulted from the excesses of global capitalism, an aide from the president’s office said.

Speaking in a mix of French and English like Canada’s Justin Trudeau, with whom he shares both political views and style, Macron will ask executives to act responsibly and to focus on the common good, social cohesion, health, education, climate and the fight against inequalities, the official told reporters. The president is due to speak at 5.30 p.m. local time.

For Macron, the change of tone is aimed at his domestic audience suspicious of his sales pitch to international businesses -- critics have dubbed him “president of the rich” and the president is aiming to shift that tag.

He’s due to repeat his plea to giant tech companies Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.com to pay a fair share of taxes in each country where they operate rather than using loopholes to shift profits to tax havens.

Macron’s approval rating has stabilized around 50 percent after taking a dive during the fall as he emerged from the honeymoon period that followed his surprise election victory in May.

The president will also use his speech to repeat the mantra of his first months in office: “France is back. Europe is back.”

The slogan, posted on his Twitter account again on Wednesday, is meant as another appeal to those wondering where to place their factories, money or talents. While Macron may not directly reference the US or President Donald Trump’s trade policies, his appeal to investors may emphasize Europe’s commitment to the multi-lateral system and political stability. All the same, Macron will call on leaders to “rethink” the rules of the global economy, his office said.

He will also meet with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in bilateral side meetings, according to an agenda provided by his office.