Agile Governance

Donald Trump's inauguration: what they had to say at Davos

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump addresses the "Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2017.   REUTERS/Mike Segar  - T TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY   - RTSWCS8

New US President Donald Trump divided opinion at Davos Image: REUTERS/Mike Segar

Ceri Parker
Previously Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Agile Governance is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Agile Governance

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos takes place this year in the run-up to the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president. Here’s what participants had to say about the new leader of the world’s biggest economy.

Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba

“I think America and China should never have a trade war, and I think we should give President-Elect Donald Trump some time. And he’s open-minded. He’s listening.”

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Oscar-winning documentary maker and activist

“I think the world is far more polarized now than it has ever been. I find that the language of hate often trumps the language of dialogue and inclusiveness. This is the time to speak up and this is the time to speak out when you see something that you do not agree with and something that is not true to your core values ... It’s the time to push, so that things do change and the world that you believe in and the values that you believe in stay and are not overridden by another language that you do not subscribe to.”

Anthony Scaramucci, incoming Head of the White House Office for Public Liaison

“He’s not looking for a rise of militarism. If anything, he’s the exact opposite. I can remember, after someone was attacking him for itching to potentially push the nuclear button, he looked at me and said: ‘My God, I’ve got grandchildren and I’ve got children I love, I would be the last person that would want to do that' ... I see him very differently than maybe you guys see him, but I think over the next four years … you’re going to start seeing him more the way I see him.”

John Kerry, US Secretary of State under President Obama

“I don’t believe Trump will reverse my achievements. Take Iran: I bet you that our friends and allies will get together and that Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain will say, you know what, this is a good deal, we’re going to keep it. And we will have done great injury to ourselves. And it’ll hurt for the two years – or however long the administration is there for.”

“Trade is not the most culpable entity for the loss of jobs. 85% of job loss in America is because of technology. I can’t wait to see how the incoming administration deals with AI. You’re not going to solve it by running away from this – you’ve got to see the strength in unity.”

Igor Shuvalov, First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia

"Trump is a leading business man; you can’t survive in business if you’re not dying for victory. He’ll have to get results; it’s part of his personality. I hope Trump – a superb professional entrepreneur – will become a professional president and achieve results for global security. I hope he’ll agree with Putin on how to solve Ukraine. But for results, you need to negotiate with Russia, and not put Russia in a corner."

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Minister of Defence, the Netherlands

“The world continues to need US leadership, the world continues to need a strong Transatlantic alliance, because of our joint commitment to human rights, freedom, democracy, the rule of law … Trump is not the first president to tell Europe to stand up and do more.”

Fred Kempe, President and CEO of the Atlantic Council

“There’s no doubt he’s a different sort of president, he’s the first populist president the United States has elected since Andrew Jackson, so he will communicate differently, he will act differently. But if you look at the national security team that’s coming in, it’s pretty conventional stuff, and they’re brilliant. General Mattis was the Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, he believes in NATO.”

Forest Whitaker, artist and activist

“I hope he’ll be a president who, in the end, represents all people. I can’t be optimistic based on some of the statements that have been made. But we have to come to the table and find common ground, push the agenda.”

“I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to be a nation that is united. There are those who doubt we’re going to move forward in a positive way, but we have to try. If it doesn’t happen, then people have to stand up and make their voices heard.”

“Martin Luther King said we’re owed a ‘promissory note’ – life liberty and happiness. Until we’ve achieved that, we’re not the America we say we want to be.”

Forest Whitaker at Davos

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise

“The election didn’t go the way I wanted, but we have got to give our new president the benefit of the doubt. He has the opportunity to prove that he can demonstrate responsive and responsible leadership.”

Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

“Trump’s decision to walk away from the TPP is amazing, because he is shooting America in the foot. He talks about putting America first, and he shoots himself in the foot. We have to prepare for a world where America goes from being the biggest cheerleader on trade to one of the biggest obstacles.”

Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Foreign Minister of Panama

“I think that messages are important, messages are powerful, messages from powerful people are very powerful. I think we need to work on messages being gender correct."

Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado at Davos

Frans van Houten, the CEO of Royal Philips

“I would worry about disruptive measures and new-found nationalism closing borders.”

Jamie Oliver, Chef and food campaigner

“I want to see Donald Trump growing some stuff, cooking some stuff. Because if not, I’m building my bunker.”

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How true strategic foresight can help companies survive and thrive

Amy Webb

January 31, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum