2017 World Trade Report

The 2017 edition of the WTO’s flagship study, the World Trade Report, examines how technology and trade affect labour markets. The paper, launched at the WTO Public Forum, highlights the crucial role technological progress and trade play in expanding economic output and increasing welfare. The Report notes that continued economic progress relies on the ability of societies to remain open to trade and technological advance, while also being able to adjust, adapt, and promote greater inclusiveness. It recognizes that certain types of workers and/or regions may be adversely affected, for example, by increased automation. However, more than ever before, workers are able to move from lower- to higher-productivity jobs, and from declining sectors to rising ones. Through a mix of adjustment, competitiveness, and compensation policies governments can help workers to adjust to technological change, while making sure that the economy captures the benefits from these changes. While today’s labour market problems are largely traceable to domestic policy shortcomings, a failure to find answers could have global ramifications, the study warns.

October 2017