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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.

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Labour migration and development

Today there is considerable study and discussion on the link between labour mobility and development. This increased level of research has also been mirrored in greater interest among policymakers. In October 2013 the United Nations General Assembly held a High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development for the second time, building on the progress since the first Dialogue in 2006. The Dialogue acknowledged the important contribution of migration in realizing the Millennium Development Goals, and recognized that human mobility is a key factor for sustainable development which should be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. Participants adopted an eight point agenda for action: “Making Migration Work.”

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