During rapid economic change, the multilateral trading system needs to ensure the expansion of opportunities presented by technology and their lessening of adverse effects, World Trade Organization (WTO) director General Roberto Azevedo said Monday.
Addressing a conference, Azevedo said: "Trade in services, data, and information is surging across digital platforms. Traditional trade in manufactured goods, agricultural products, or natural resources is also increasingly enabled by digital technologies."
He added that between 2013 and 2015, the value of online trade jumped from 16 trillion to 22 trillion U.S. dollars, "expanding the opportunities worldwide."
Azevedo said it is estimated e-commerce sales will rise by over 23 percent in 2017 alone and the global trading system "must go further."
In the year 1900, almost half of all workers in France were employed on farms, he said. Today, the figure is less than 3 percent. In fact, in some economies eight out of ten job losses in manufacturing are due to higher productivity, not cheaper imports, Azevedo said.
The biennial WTO ministerial conference will held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from Dec. 10 to 13.