8 of 10 job losses in advanced economies impacted by new tech

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DUBAI — Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), shared his thoughts on the relevance of the WTO in today’s international trade context and on the challenges new technology poses for workforces of the future at the sixth edition of the World Government Summit (WGS 2018) in Dubai.

In his session titled ‘The Outlook for Global Trade in a Hyperconnected World’, moderated by CNN’s Emerging Markets Editor John Defterios, he noted that, to remain effective, the WTO must adapt and introduce more flexibility.

Roberto Azevêdo said: “The speed of transformation that we see today is unprecedented, so governments may want to prepare, but I would say 100 per cent of them, they are not prepared. And they are not doing enough to get ready.”

He added: “Eight out of 10 jobs that are lost today in advanced economies are lost to new technology. They are not lost to trade or to immigrants, they are lost to new technology.”

Addressing the impact of new technology on trade, particularly the dynamism brought about by e-commerce, Roberto Azevêdo underlined the need for flexibility in the WTO. He said: “While each of the 164 member countries might not be prepared to participate in a discussion about e-commerce, it is important for them to join the conversation as it evolves.”

He added: “E-commerce is a reality. It’s not going away. It’s going to grow, and it’s going to grow a lot faster and in ways which are different. A lot of the e-commerce that we see today is business-to-business. Business-to-consumer changes the world completely. The laws and regulations of consumer protection have to be thought about, cross-border transactions, digital signatures, the legality of contracts across the border, which legislation applies, return of merchandise – it’s a world out there.”

In closing, Roberto Azevêdo said: “We are changing from the era of the container to the era of the small packages. It’s not only about the infrastructure. Often governments work on the infrastructure, such as ports, airports and facilities for transportation, for connection. But it’s also about the soft infrastructure and thinking about the future. You may have all the physical infrastructure in place, but if the institutions and the people who handle them don’t understand that they need to lower the costs, that they need to facilitate trade in this new era of the small package, you are going to be behind.”

Under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the three-day World Government Summit 2018 concluded on Wednesday at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event convenes more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 16 international organizations.

Hosting more than 130 speakers across 120 interactive sessions, WGS 2018 features six distinct forums that examine the challenges of vital sectors for the future with a view to finding the best resolutions for the greater global good. Furthermore, over 20 specialized global reports spanning key sectors and topics of the summit are being launched during the event. — SG


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