China, India and other emerging giants – representing one-third of humanity – are rapidly catching up with the developed world, even as the overall global economy continues to reinvent itself and race ahead, the World Trade Report 2017 said.
Released by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the report examines how technology and trade affect employment and wages, while observing that the world economy has doubled in size since 1990 in its biggest expansion in history, despite the post-2007 Great Recession
It analyses the challenges for workers and firms in adjusting to changes in labour markets, and how governments can facilitate such adjustment to ensure that trade and technology are inclusive.
“The development, welfare and living standards of billions of people around the world, including the poorest, are progressing at an unprecedented rate,” says the report.
This extraordinary period of growth and development, however, has been accompanied by an equally extraordinary period of disruption.
“Whole new economies force others to adapt or decline; as the demand for more skilled, specialized or knowledge-intensive work grows across many countries and sectors, even as the demand for less skilled, more routine work shrinks,” the report says.
In the more productive, dynamic and diverse global economy, some people fall behind, says the report.
It notes that the same forces that are delivering economic progress – innovation, specialization, producing more and better with less, are also delivering economic change, turnover and dislocation.
“No two forces are driving this global economic transformation more than technology and trade,” it says.
It further notes that because economic openness encourages innovation, and vice versa, the two are not just related but mutually reinforcing.
New technologies, including fiber optics and the Internet are linking together and “hardwiring” today’s globalized economy, in turn fuelling even more openness and integration.
“China could not have emerged as the new ‘workshop of the world’ without its integration into global production networks; India would not be on track to becoming a global services hub without access to the World Wide Web,” says the report.