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World economic woes dominate Davos meeting -

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World economic woes dominate Davos meeting

The World Today - Friday, 30 January , 2009 12:17:00

Reporter: Brendan Trembath

ELIZABETH JACKSON: The main message from the World Economic Forum is to get out of the economic
crisis as quickly as possible.

But patience is running out in countries like France. Unions there have led huge protests against
the Government's handling of the crisis.

Brendan Trembath prepared this report.

(Sound of protest)

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Mass anger over the French Government's handling of the global financial crisis.
Police estimate about a million workers took part in protests around France but unions put the
total at more than two-million.

It didn't matter either way to this commuter who questioned the timing of the protest.

FRENCH COMMUTER (translated): I am not against the fact that people demonstrate to defend their
interests and their benefits as they say, but is this really the best time to do it considering
what is going on right now with the economic crisis and everything else that risks happening on the
international level? So I really don't think it's the best time to have done this. But well, this
is typically French.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The streets were blocked by workers angry about the fallout from France's
worsening economy. Jobs and wages are under threat.

The head of the Socialist Party Martine Aubry says France's President should reorder his
priorities.

MARTINE AUBRY (translated): I am waiting for Nicolas Sarkozy to realise that in all the
neighbouring countries, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and tomorrow Obama, everybody is
re-energising the economy so he should stop lowering taxes of the richest people and giving
billions to the banks that are not redistributing that money to small and mid-sized businesses or
to individuals.

He should help re-energise the purchasing power for retirees and workers so that people start
buying again.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The global financial crisis has been dominating talks across the border in
Switzerland. Heads of state, finance ministers and central bank governors are taking part in an
annual talkfest known as the World Economic Forum.

So far China's Premier Wen Jiabao has told delegates that China is helping fight the financial
crisis by taking steps to boost its own economy but he's tried to be realistic about what can be
done.

WEN JAIBAO (translated): To be honest, it will be a tall order to achieve a growth rate of eight
per cent of the Chinese economy in 2009 but I still hold the conviction that with hard work, we
will be able to obtain this goal.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: China has announced a stimulus package and pushed state-owned banks to increase
lending.

The United States argues China could do more on the economy front, like allow its currency to trade
more freely. China has limited gains in the Yuan. The move makes China's exports more attractive
but it doesn't help the ballooning US trade deficit.

The former US President Bill Clinton is in Davos too and says countries have to work together to
revive the world economy.

BILL CLINTON: I believe that we will get through this. People always ask, you know, when will it be
over? And I want to say 3.15 November the 7th, 2009 (laughter). Nobody knows.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The World Economic Forum talks extend to national security and it's been a hot
topic too.

A discussion on the conflict in Gaza became heated when Israel's President Shimon Peres clashed
with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (translated): President Peres, President Peres you are older than I am and you
have a very strong voice. I feel that you perhaps feel a bit guilty and that's why, perhaps, you
have been so strong in your voice, so loud.

Well, you kill people. I remember the children who died on beaches.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The World Economic Forum meeting wraps up tomorrow.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Brendan Trembath reporting.