( dpa ) - Up to 2,500 politicians, business leaders and heads of international organizations began arriving in the Swiss city of Davos Tuesday to discuss global economic issues amid record losses on the world's stock markets.
A total of 27 heads of state or government and 113 cabinet ministers, including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fakuda, who is due to preside over the G8 summit in Japan in July, were due to gather at Europe's highest city for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Bill Gates, of Microsoft, Sir Howard Stringer, head of Sony Corporation and E Neville Isdell, head of Coca Cola, were among the business leaders also scheduled to participate.
They began arriving as stocks from Europe to Asia recorded massive slumps in response to growing fears of a US recession.
Climate change and its impact on future food and water scarcity are on the agenda at the Swiss ski resort, but the consequences of a US recession for global growth now look set to concentrate the minds of participants.
One focus will be whether the United States is about to finally relinquish its role as global economic driver to emerging markets such as India and China.
India is sending a strong delegation once again of leading industrial figures and decision-makers headed by Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram. China is sending Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan.
The gathering is also set to provide a platform, on the fringes of the main event, for further discussion in the context of world trade talks, with the head of the World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy in attendance.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and US Trade Representative Susan Schwab at a meeting in Brussels on Monday again stated their willingness to break the deadlock that has delayed conclusion of the discussions to liberalise global trade.