1 WTO’s ‘landmark’ IT trade deal (BBC) The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has struck a “landmark” deal to cut tariffs on $1.3 trn worth of technology products. The deal will update the 18-year-old IT Agreement and add 200 products to the zero tariff list. It is expected to give a boost to producers of goods ranging from video games to medical equipment.
The WTO says the sum is equal to global trade in iron, steel, textiles and clothing combined. “Today’s agreement is a landmark,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo. The final technical details will be worked out until December.
The existing 1996 IT agreement was seen by industry and policy makers as woefully out of date as it did not cover devices and products invented since then. Technology manufacturers such as General Electric, Intel, Texas Instruments, Microsoft and Nintendo are among the many companies expected to benefit from the deal. Negotiations on updating the technology agreement began in 2012.
2 New York’s $15 per hour may be highest minimum wage (George Arnett & Alberto Nardelli in The Guardian) Fast-food workers in New York City will be paid a minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2018 with the rate rolling out to the rest of the state by 2021. The move follows more than a year of campaigning on the issue. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle have all approved a $15 minimum wage for all employees in the three cities.
At today’s exchange rate, $15 is a higher minimum wage than any other major jurisdiction in the world. Australia comes closest with a $12.50 base hourly wage. Major European economies such as France and Germany (which introduced a minimum wage after the last general election) hover around the $10 and $9 mark respectively.
The rate is below $5 an hour in Greece and Spain, which is similar to Japan ($6), and even lower in Brazil where it’s $1.25 – though of course the cost of living varies between states and countries. An hourly wage of $15 is of course still the exception in the US and many jobs are exempt from the rate. The minimum wage at a federal level is $7.25.
3 New skills for the changing workplace (Chia Yan Min in Straits Times) In the past 20 years, the computer and digital revolution has changed the workplace almost beyond recognition, and jobs that involve repeated, routine actions are being replaced by automated machines and robots, says Ms Christine Wright, managing director of recruiting experts Hays.
This disruption is taking place across all industries and in all geographies. According to a 2013 study by the Oxford Martin School, 47 per cent of all jobs in the US and Britain are at risk because of computerisation. Amid this upheaval, new jobs and industries are coming to the fore. For instance, Google – now so ubiquitous that it even has its own verb – was founded just 17 years ago.
Other key trends are also emerging, including a growing ageing population in the developed world and their attendant healthcare needs as well as the anticipated vast spending on infrastructure in developing countries, notes Ms Wright. These developments will bump up global demand for healthcare professionals, architects and civil engineers in the coming decades.
Large e-commerce retailers are looking for people “who can think of the entire e-commerce supply chain”. “A very different set of skills is needed to sell in the digital world, compared to brick and mortar,” says Aparna Bharadwaj of the Boston Consultancy Group.