Data is ‘oil of the future,’ Dubai government summit told

Mohamed Al-Gergawi, UAE minister for cabinet affairs and the future
Updated 11 February 2018
0

Data is ‘oil of the future,’ Dubai government summit told

DUBAI: Data is the “oil of the future,” Mohammad Al-Gergawi, UAE minister for cabinet affairs and the future, told the opening session of the World Government Summit in Dubai.
A packed audience heard the minister set out the agenda for the three-day event, which has attracted 4,000 leaders from the worlds of business and economic and public policy. Digital communications giants such as Google and Facebook would soon know more about individuals than governments do, Al-Gergawi said.
“By 2045, we will be able to transfer and upload the contents of the human mind to a data center. Governments must be prepared for these coming changes. The aim of this summit is to find answers and set priorities to meet these challenges and opportunities.”
The theme of the summit is “shaping future governments,” and Al-Gergawi detailed the challenges policymakers will face in health, artificial intelligence, crypto currencies and their impact on global finance, climate change and the issues of digital connectivity.
Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum, who also spoke at the opening session, harked back 10 years to the onset of the global financial crisis, which he said threatened a series of other crises in economies, in societies and between generations.
“We avoided a complete breakdown of the financial system, but there was a cost. The world’s debts now add up to 200 per cent of global GDP,” he said.
Schwab said most experts, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Monetary Fund, were forecasting two years of  “sound, comprehensive growth,” but he said financial markets were still addicted to low interest rates and cheap capital.
There were still risks of a social crisis, he said, with levels of inequality and an unfair system of wealth distribution, as well as a generational crisis. “The world’s education systems do not satisfy the requirements of the 21st century.”
He highlighted global risks such as geopolitical issues, inequality, cybersecurity, gender parity and failures of leadership.
The pace of technological change was increasing all the time and adding to the pressures on policymakers, Schwab said. “Never before has the speed of change been so fast as in 2018. But also, never again will the speed of change be so slow as it is in 2018.”


Pacific Rim trade bloc meets in Tokyo, prepping for growth

Updated 10 min 33 sec ago
0

Pacific Rim trade bloc meets in Tokyo, prepping for growth

TOKYO: Representatives from a Pacific Rim trade bloc geared up to roll out and expand the market-opening initiative as they met Saturday in Tokyo, reaffirming their commitment to open and free trade and inviting new membership.
The Pacific Rim free trade agreement, rejected by President Donald Trump after he took office in 2017, took effect at the end of last year after Australia became the sixth nation to ratify it. So far, seven of the 11 member countries have done so, and the others are expected to follow through soon.
Known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, the agreement aims to streamline trade and slash tariffs to facilitate more business among member nations with a combined population of nearly 500 million and GDP of $13.5 trillion.
The trade officials at the meeting in Japan’s capital reaffirmed the importance to promote free trade and economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, said Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who chaired the gathering.
The 11 nations remaining after the US withdrawal amended the pact to enable it to take effect even without Washington’s participation. Vietnam, Canada, Mexico and Singapore also have ratified it. Peru, Chile, Brunei and Malaysia have not yet done so and were encouraged at the meeting to push forward the process.
“Amid growing concerns over recent trends toward protectionism, the ministers shared the view that it is of paramount importance to maintain and further strengthen the principles of an effective, open, inclusive and rules-based trading system,” Motegi said, reading from a joint statement.
In his opening statement earlier at the meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the 11 ministers for achieving the trade bloc at a difficult time for supporters of the free trade system amid rapid change in the increasingly globalized economy, causing concerns and frustration about the existing system and triggering trade disputes.
“We should not turn the clock backward. ... We need to squarely face any worries and anxieties and achieve fair regulation so as to further develop free trade. TPP is at the forefront of that movement,” Abe said. “The door is always open to those who share our vision, and those who accept TPP’s high standards.”
The US departure was a huge loss given the size of the American market. But others, including Taiwan, are reportedly interested in joining the trade deal, seen as a first step toward a pan-Pacific free trade zone.
Trump said he was putting “America first” in seeking bilateral deals rather than broader ones like the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the trading group’s original name. Members are still hopeful the US might eventually rejoin.
“We welcome new participation of as many countries and regions as possible, including the United States,” Motegi said.
For now, nearly two dozen stipulations sought by the US in the original deal reportedly have been shelved after Washington withdrew, watering down the plan proclaimed by the previous administration of President Barack Obama as being the “gold standard” for 21st century trade rules.
Separate efforts are underway to forge a free trade arrangement within Asia called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which encompasses the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India and China, but not the United States.