Regional Integration and Labour Mobility

Linking Trade, Migration and Development

image of Regional Integration and Labour Mobility
This paper, published as part of the ESCAP series Studies in Trade and Investment, explores the linkages between trade, labour mobility and development in the Asia-Pacific region. The paper moves from an analysis of recent trends in regional labour mobility through an examination of the connections between trade, migration and development. Finally it considers how migration could be better governed at the multilateral, regional and bilateral levels. A central theme of the paper is that, when properly governed, labour mobility can deliver large and sustained development gains. Improving cross-border labour market access, particularly for people from developing countries, therefore needs higher prioritization by regional policymakers. At the same time, the concerns of receiving country populations around higher levels of immigration also need to be addressed. Striking this balance will require, in particular, the expansion and further adoption of co-operative agreements between sending and receiving countries which provide labour market access in return for more cooperation in migration management and enforcement.



Migration and trade

As noted, trade in goods and services and migration are interconnected. The Asia-Pacific region has seen growing migration flows over recent years. Trade, both intraregional and with global partners, has also expanded rapidly over the past two decades as the Asia-Pacific has emerged as the most dynamic region of the world economy. While the movement of goods and services influences the movement of people, and vice versa, the linkages are both direct and indirect. The following section reviews some of the connections between trade and migration explored in the literature. Subsequent sections consider, first, the explicit developmental impacts of migration flows, and then, second, how labour migration is managed - globally, regionally and bilaterally – including the treatment of migration issues in the context of trade agreements.


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