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AMNC24: Five things to know about the 'Summer Davos' in China

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The Forum has held its annual 'Summer Davos' in China since 2007.

The Forum has held its annual 'Summer Davos' in China since 2007. Image: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Gayle Markovitz
Acting Head, Written and Audio Content, World Economic Forum
This article is part of: Annual Meeting of the New Champions
  • Leaders came together for the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC) from 25-27 June in Dalian, China.
  • From AI and entrepreneurship to energy and people, the programme addressed six core themes under the title ‘Next Frontiers for Growth’.
  • 5 common threads emerged across the sessions - here are the key takeaways.

More than 1,600 global leaders from over 80 countries came together in China to discuss solutions to revitalize the global economy through inclusive, sustainable growth.

The World Economic Forum's 15th Annual Meeting of the New Champions addressed six core themes: A New Global Economy, China and the World, Entrepreneurship in the Age of AI, New Frontiers for Industries, Investing in People, and Connecting Climate, Nature and Energy.

Over the course of the three days, five common threads emerged across the sessions. Here are the key takeaways.

1. A decisive moment for China

China, as the world's second largest economy and the largest emerging market, is central to future global growth, and the Forum has held its annual 'Summer Davos' in China since 2007.

With economists only cautiously optimistic for the global economy in 2024, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva has said China is at a 'fork in the road' and must choose between tried and tested policies or reinvent itself for 'high-quality growth'.

In 2023, China accounted for around 30% of global growth, Peng Sen, President of the China Society of Economic Reform (CSER), told the AMNC's China Economic Outlook session.

In the first quarter of 2024, China's growth was higher than expected at 5.3%.

"In general terms, China's economy is on the upswing, but that's not to say it's without its problems. The process of recovery doesn't yet have very firm foundations.

"As China's growth stabilizes, this is good news for the world. [Chinese Premier] Li Qiang at the opening of this meeting, announced this goal that [the economy] would grow by 5.0%. And I'm fully confident that China will achieve that."


Address by China Premier Li Qiang to the Annual Meeting of New Champions 2024

Premier Li Qiang's speech was marked by optimism around the potential for growth, as he outlined "a host of sectors" - from AI to biomedicine - expected to "evolve into multi-trillion-dollar pillar industries".

“China stands ready to join hands with all countries to sail the giant ship of the world economy into a vast blue ocean and create an even brighter future for humanity," he said.

China is also central to the green transition, another growth sector, particularly the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

"China is investing heavily in Europe, directly setting up plants and factories on batteries and EV platforms," said Jin Keyu, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics.

She said 45 million EV vehicles would be needed by 2040. "Trillions of dollars of investment that's needed: China is going to play a very essential role."

Sessions also covered China's increasing significance for growth in the Global South and the Middle East.

In the session China and the Middle East: The Next Chapter, Ahmad Al Hanandeh, Jordan's Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, described China as like a skilful "older brother": "Whenever something is needed, they immediately jump on it. They make it very cost-effective, very fast. And they just deliver it."

But, he said, it was time for China give a chance to the "other brothers and sisters to build their own skills". China will continue to "play the role of strategic, important trading and economical partner for the Arab countries and the Middle East region," he added.

2. Globalization is 'no longer a Western-centred story'

To enable growth, trade tensions between China and the US must be resolved, leaders and economists said. Some AMNC sessions, such as US-China Relations Analysed, tackled the issue head-on.

With the US election in November adding uncertainty about future relations, economist Eswar Prasad said in the China Economic Outlook session: "It's not that the two countries are decoupling, but the coupling is now going through alternative channels, with China investing in production and other facilities in other parts of the world to export to the US.

"The reality is that we are in a much more connected world. But because of these tensions, that connection is going to take different forms."

Premier Li said that "resorting to regressive actions of decoupling" could "drag the world into a destructive spiral where the fierce competition for a larger slice ends up in a diminishing pie".

There was a sense that with trade routes being redrawn, particularly around trading blocs such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) and ASEAN, the axis of economic power is shifting.

Analyst Adam Tooze said: "Globalization is no longer a Western-centred story. It's something that engages regions all over the world most dramatically."

Rafizi Ramli, Malaysia's Minister of Economy, said ASEAN countries needed to work closer together to continue delivering in critical areas such as trade and the deployment of capital and technology: "We are small, we are non-aligned, but we are very open. It is part and parcel of emerging economies getting together to ensure that we are not trapped by everything happening."


Busi Mabuza, Chairperson, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, urged countries to move away from short-term thinking for the good of all:

"We need to respect each other's autonomy and collaborate... and [we need to] take a long-term view, short-termism is very costly. It is very important that we all commit to leaving this world much better than we found it."


The IMF's Deputy Managing Director, Bo Li, said it was essential for countries to work together to solve common challenges.


3. Climate is the 'major area of cooperation'

“If we want to create sustainable prosperity we are going to have to protect life because life supports us, and if we don't support life, we are going to disappear," warned André Hoffmann, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Roche, and one of the Co-Chairs of AMNC, said, putting climate change high up the agenda.

"We are seeing the limit to the system more and more. If our growth is not contained within planetary limits, we are just going to outgrow the system, and that's not going to be beneficial in the long term.”

There's enough money in the world to finance the energy transition said Paul Gruenwald, Global Chief Economist, S&P Global, in Not Losing Momentum on the Energy Transition:

"We just need to unlock that and get it to the countries that need it," said Gruenwald, adding that "the climate is a global public good".

"We are in an era where geopolitics is bigger than before, but we have to try and maximize gains across countries."


Here China has a pivotal role to play with green technology, particularly in terms of offering access and investment to developing nations - as well as helping with the transition to EVs.

Climate is the major area of cooperation, said Jin Keyu, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science: "Let's be real - [there's a] $5 trillion gap in emerging markets, developing countries that needs to be filled for sustainable investment, green investment until 2030 and 45 million EVs [are] needed by then. So let's not talk about overcapacity. [There are] 600 million people in Africa without electricity...

"I don't think it's a bad thing that all these countries are doing more investment, especially on the innovation part."

In Where is Globalization Headed?, Tooze said there's a "bargain to be had" over the export of Chinese EVs to Europe.

"The Europeans are actually kind of serious about the energy transition. And they need 10 million [electric] vehicles by 2030. And there's no way on Earth they're going to be able to make them at affordable prices themselves. And China can."

China's Special Envoy for Climate Change Liu Zhenmin, said cooperation between China and the US on climate change since 2013 has been "roughly good", with the countries setting out four pillars to work on: the energy transition, reduction of methane and other non-CO2 gases, the circular carbon economyn and cooperation among all levels of government and institutions.

Malaysia's Minister of Economic Affairs, Rafizi Ramli, said: "A move towards a more sustainable economy, and decarbonization efforts, has to be able to manage the energy trilemma and also lessen the shocks to society..."

"One of the flagship projects in ASEAN is to make sure we can progress towards an integrated grid all the way from Laos, to Singapore and Indonesia."

4. AI and emerging tech can 'level the playing field'

The Forum launched its annual Top 10 Emerging Technologies 2024 during AMNC, with many of them focused on addressing the climate crisis.

AI and emerging technologies can help to scale up the development and deployment of green technologies and to level the playing field for sustainable development. But the technologies need careful regulation and humans in the loop.

Jin Keyu said technology could enable developing countries to leapfrog economically.

"I do believe that this is a phenomenal opportunity for the developing world to embark on the digital economy... Where their physical infrastructure is also in a deficit of trillions of dollars, they might be able to leapfrog the traditional industries and be able to climb up the value chain, because one of the threats for them is that can they still manufacture their way out of poverty."

AI assistants have the potential to revolutionize impact and equitable decision-making, said leaders in the session What can AI Assistants Do?

"There's this tremendous opportunity to use AI agents and more advanced forms of AI, as we develop them, to transform completely how we make decisions in our society, which will lead to more equitable, more efficient, better societies," said Darko Matovski, Founder and CEO of causaLens.

"In a world where talent is traditionally the bottleneck for growth, I think the really exciting opportunity for AI agents is actually to compress the timescale that it takes to build ideas or companies to impact," said Nancy Xu, CEO of Moonhub.


Technology will also help to break siloes said leaders, but greater collaboration was also needed on regulation.

Ivan John E. Uy, Philippines Secretary of Information and Communications Technology, noted that was the challenge for the 10 ASEAN countries: "The challenge is... being able to collaborate, being able to connect and to share that information across the different platforms and across the different countries. And we can do this today because the technology allows it."

Paula Ingabire, Rwanda's Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation, said siloed legislation would make it difficult to scale AI solutions.


5. Economic growth needs 'investment into human capital'

Innovation on green tech and emerging tech is needed for growth, but will only be possible if we ensure people have access to skills and opportunities, said panelists.

Erika Kraemer Mbula, Professor of Economics, University of Johannesburg, said access to technology and digital skills gaps was a challenge for countries to overcome: “Mobile penetration has increased a lot in the past decade or so, but there’s still a digital divide. Widespread access to the internet and electricity are still insufficient. And unless we address the digital divide, we are very likely to leave many behind in this AI movement.”


There is a "deficit of hope" among young people that must be addressed, said Mohamad Al-Ississ, Jordan's Minister of Finance.

"Our region is young, 70% of Jordan's population is below the age of 30 and out of all the deficits that the Middle East suffers from, nothing worries me more than the deficit of hope among youth.

"We must must give them a potential for a hopeful future otherwise, the impact and ramifications of that would not be limited to the oil-importing countries in the Middle East, but it will be widespread."


Achieving gender equality is essential for women's wellbeing and for future growth, said experts in When Parity Means Growth.

The economic benefits of gender parity, sending girls to school or giving women control of income and assets were made clear by panelists.

“If I were to argue for the growth of the global economy, I would argue one of the most fundamental things is investment into human capital." Liu Qian, economist and Founder and CEO, Wusawa Advisory.


With heatwaves increasingly hitting headlines, looking after people's health and wellbeing in a changing climate are essential.

André Hoffmann said: "We need an integrated model that takes into account the impact our growth is having on the social, the human, the natural capital."

Urbanization is one of the forces shaping environments around the world, said Pamela Collins, Professor and Chair, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University, with research pointing to urban living as a higher risk factor for poor mental health.

More than 1 billion people around the world live with a mental health disorder, she added, but it's a particular issue for our young people.

"These conditions occur across cultures, across geographies. The majority of these conditions begin in adolescence before the age of 25 - and about 1 in 7 adolescents around the world lives with a mental health condition."

Experts have identified 37 characteristics of a mental health-friendly city, she said, outlining findings of research.

Have you read?
1. A decisive moment for China2. Globalization is 'no longer a Western-centred story'3. Climate is the 'major area of cooperation'4. AI and emerging tech can 'level the playing field'5. Economic growth needs 'investment into human capital'

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