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AI to 'determine course of global trade, jobs' in near future

Experts at WTO public forum stress policy coherence

ASJADUL KIBRIA, from GENEVA | September 14, 2023 00:00:00

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT will be a big issue in near future to determine the course of trade and jobs. So it is critical for the countries, especially the developing nations, to understand the fast changing issue.

An international trade expert made the observation while speaking at her book launching session of the WTO Public Forum 2023 on Wednesday in Geneva.

The Trade Handbook: Making Trade Work for Prosperity, People and Planet written by Arancha González Laya was formally launched in the morning. Yanis Bourgeois is the co-author of the book.

Talking at the session, the lead author also said that people were celebrating technological progresses, although the advancement displaced or dislocated many workers from their jobs.

"Online teaching is definitely an wonderful innovation that helps to improve the quality of learning," she continued, adding that at the same time, many teachers are at risk of losing their jobs.

Arancha, now Dean of Paris School of International Affairs, earlier served as executive director of International Trade Center in Geneva.

Arancha also cautioned that owners of the AI might undermine the market mechanism and competitiveness, if not regulated properly.

She also stressed the need for development of some different approaches to address the challenges and risks of AI-related issues. "Tariff on digital trade will not be able to protect the dislocations," she opined.

Her book presents a comprehensive view of why open trade and economic integration matter, where trade is headed, how to regulate it, and how it can work for everyone - not just some or most.

She argued that in the past the focus had been on making trade possible or negotiating trade agreements. Now it is time to pay the same attention to making trade happen, and most importantly, to ensure trade works for all.

"How to make trade effectively work for prosperity, people and planet is critical," she said at the session.

She also argued that trade policies had to be coherent with other domestic and international policies to be effective.

"It is not enough to have a good trade policy by a country," she explained. "The country also needs taxation, education, social development and technology policies aligned with the trade policy."

Taking part in the discussion, Susana Malcorra, Senior Advisor of IE University, said that trade was not a magic that could solve various problems, rather it was a part of various puzzles.

"As there are both winners and losers of globalisation, we need to put the losers also in trade policies," she added.

Susan also mentioned that global problem could not be solved locally or regionally, rather it required global approach.

Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme, Ambassador of Botswana and Chair of the General Council in WTO; and Bryce Baschuk, a reporter of Bloomberg News, also joined the discussion.

The handbook is part of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) primers series.

On the second day of the WTO Public Forum 2023, participants were busy talking and debating on role of the services sector in sustainable trade, inclusive policies for the advancement of green trade and digitalisation as a tool for the greening of supply chains.

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