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OECD head: New tech drives prosperity

By Ouyang Shijia in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-06 08:04
Bill Gates, chairman of TerraPower, and Alibaba's co-founder Jack Ma talk on Monday before the forum on trade and innovation during the ongoing China International Import Expo in Shanghai. [Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily]

More efforts are needed to embrace free trade, foster open markets and boost the innovation and technological progress of countries and regions around the world, according to government leaders, business executives and experts from home and abroad.

"Powered by investment in new technologies, innovation is a key driver for growth and development. It enables countries to be more competitive, more adaptable to change and able to support higher living standards," said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Gurria made the remarks on Monday at a forum during this week's ongoing China International Import Expo, or CIIE, which will last until Saturday.

According to Gurria, open markets can support the dissemination of technology, and there is a need for updating and upgrading international trade to keep pace with the realities of the digital economy.

"We need to resist protectionism to ensure that trade works for all," Gurria said. "We must maintain a global mindset, strive for openness, and support multilateral cooperation to boost innovation, increase trade integration, and harness the digital transformation. In that way, we will be able to improve people's well-being."

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said trade protectionism is the opposite of innovation, and technology in particular.

"One cannot promote innovation and technical development while setting barriers to free trade," Muscat said. "The digital age opens the doors of the world to millions of small and even micro-sized enterprises. Similarly, in the marketplace, which has become less dependent on choice of location, smaller countries have found more space to operate, thanks to technology."

With booming artificial intelligence, big data and other new technologies, new problems also pop up in the world. A recent report from the OECD found that nearly 40 percent of jobs in some regions are likely to be automated. An earlier analysis estimated that around 14 percent of jobs across the OECD area as a whole were likely to be automated, while another 32 percent are likely to see significant changes.

Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma said there is no need to worry about the technology, as it also presents new opportunities.

"Young people in the next 30 years don't worry about the jobs we're thinking about today," Ma said. "The technology is going to change the world of today. Many factories are no longer creating jobs. But the service industry is going to create more jobs."

Ma said that "a trade war is the most stupid thing in this world", adding that technology will make trade more inclusive.

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