Five things will change the world economy in the next 50 years, Alibaba Founder Jack Ma noted during a multi-stakeholder discussion organized by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): new retail, with online and offline going hand-in-hand for more than 75% world's business; new manufacturing in the 'internet of things'; internet finance, which will serve 80% of young entrepreneurs who do not have access to international finance; the digital economy; and data, which will be come “the new energy ...
the new oil.”
20 September 2016: Five things will change the world economy in the next 50 years, Alibaba Founder Jack Ma noted during a multi-stakeholder discussion organized by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): new retail, with online and offline going hand-in-hand for more than 75% world’s business; new manufacturing in the ‘internet of things’; internet finance, which will serve 80% of young entrepreneurs who do not have access to international finance; the digital economy; and data, which will be come “the new energy… the new oil.”
The ‘High-level conversation on Empowering SMEs through e-Trade and Investment Facilitation’ took place on 20 September 2016, in New York, US, on the margins of the 71th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The meeting focused on ways in which e-commerce and business facilitation can be expanded further for small enterprises and emerging entrepreneurs, particularly in developing countries, and how barriers to global e-commerce can be removed though promoting technologies as well as inclusive financing, so all small businesses and young people can enjoy the benefits of trade.
Opening the meeting and speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General, explained how UNCTAD’s ‘eTrade for all’ initiative, launched at UNCTAD 14 in July 2016, supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. He said the initiative brings together 15 international organizations with 22 private sector actors, and will contribute to closing the digital divide and help developing countries tap into the growing e-commerce market.
Ma, who is also a UN Advocate on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said the digital economy is “the electricity of the 21st century,” and cautioned that governments that do not adapt will be using “last-century electricity.” He said that trade has changed from the last century, when it was controlled by a few kings and queens, and is now controlled by 60,000 major companies. He highlighted that “business should be done by business,” especially when it comes to trade, instead of having governments negotiate the rules. He explained that business people always find ways to work together, which is not the case for governments with competing geopolitical interests.
Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), underscored the need for: investments in infrastructure to expand broadband connectivity; industrial and state policies that are clear and support entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs); and gender equality. She highlighted that digitalization in itself will not solve global problems, and must be paired with an overarching vision, which is provided by the SDGs.
Roberto Azevedo, Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), stressed the need for: reducing technology access deficits and lack of connectivity; enhanced communication between governments, international institutions, and SMEs, with regard to both needs and capabilities; and governments to step back when it comes to setting trade regulations, as the current trade regulations were made for the last century and are not fit for the digital economy and the SMEs. [Event Website] [IISD RS Sources]