UNCTAD Ponders Trade, Dev't & Migration Links

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,,, at 7/29/2009 12:41:00 PM
Any discussion of migration boils down to the question of what constitutes development. That is, can sending folks away really be considered as development when the common frame of understanding is Smithian in discussing the wealth of nations? To no one's real surprise, the answer for me is a firm "yes." Especially now when dependence on exporting products to the West is a nearly surefire recipe for misery creation, alternative ways of promoting the well-being of those from LDCs--which is closer to my idea of development--come into play which involve the movement of persons.

Helpfully, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has just put out a recent guide to help us understand the processes that can help maximize benefits from LDC migration. What follows is from the concluding section on "Ways Forward" though the rest of this short publication is well worth reading. I particularly like the section discussing the continuing importance of migration during the global financial crisis:

Strengthening the contributions of migrants to development by enhancing migration’s positive trade, investment and development links has become an increasingly important and timely endeavour, as the scope and depth of globalization has advanced. It remains an area of active dialogue that is already benefiting from concerted efforts involving governments, civil society groups, academia and the private sector to design more informed policies that multiply the beneficial economic and social impacts of migration. Stakeholders may wish to consider a variety of potential options to support and expand these efforts, including through further research and analysis. Some potential options falling under the different themes of this paper are presented as examples below.

Improving understanding on migration patterns, trends and potential
Consideration could be given to the following:

• Identifying and promoting ways to ensure that international migration better supports the development objectives of both sending and receiving countries by improving government capacity and structures for collecting labour migration data;
• Improving bilateral and multilateral channels for the exchange of migration and related labour market information;
• Encouraging and supporting more extensive analysis and research on labour migration issues that can be readily used by policymakers to design more informed and effective migration policies; and
• Examining how migration trends are influencing legal reforms in areas such as labour law modernization, land tenure, education, double taxation treaties and bilateral investment agreements, among others.

Strengthening the development benefits of migration
Consideration could be given to:
• Enhancing the benefits of migration by integrating and mainstreaming labour migration in national employment, labour market and development policy and coherence among these policy frameworks;
• Supporting expanded analyses of the economic and social contributions that international migrants make to sending and receiving countries;
• Enhancing consular services in receiving countries to provide information and assistance to national migrant workers; and
• Designing structures and mechanisms to empower migrants to contribute to sending and receiving country economies, including by involving all stakeholders in migration policymaking processes; simplifying administrative migration procedures for migrants and employers; recognizing migrant workers’ skills and qualifications; reducing remittance transaction costs; and opening up receiving country educational opportunities to migrant workers.

Empowering diaspora communities as an engine for development
Consideration could be given to:
• Providing incentives for enterprise creation and development, including transnational business initiatives and micro-enterprise development by diaspora communities;
• Facilitating the transfer of capital, skills and technology by migrant workers, including through innovative incentive schemes;
• Providing incentives to, and ensuring open competition within, the financial services sector in order to reduce remittance transaction costs for migrant workers;
• Providing incentives for the productive investment of remittances at both the national and community levels;
• Adopting measures to reverse or mitigate the loss of workers with critical skills, including by creating attractive terms for diaspora to return home;
• Adopting policies to encourage circular and return migration and reintegration into the country of origin, including by promoting temporary labour migration schemes, circulation-friendly visa policies, information dissemination on employment opportunities in their home countries, portability of social security rights and health insurance coverage, and related support structures;
• Enhancing capacity-building in migrant source countries to ensure that circularity can function in practice. Initiatives to build such capacities in cooperation between migrant source and destination countries are often undertaken in the form of pilot projects;
• Migrant source and destination countries can promote inter-institutional and twinning cooperation, including through linking companies or employers, to provide for controlled circularity; and
Additional surveys could be undertaken to improve understanding of the impediments to mobility encountered by private employers and recruiters.

Understanding and adjusting to the impacts of financial crises
Consideration could be given to:
Examining the current financial crisis from a migration and development perspective to reveal the full extent of the impact of such crises on migrants, their families and the economic and social progress of sending and receiving countries;
Developing policies that take into account that the economic downturn has reduced the short-term demand for temporary labour migration, but there will remain a long-term demand for additional temporary and permanent migrant labours to compensate for forecasted shortages due to demographic changes in many developed countries;
• Including migration related assistance as a component in development assistance programmes to assist sending countries adjust to decreased remittances and the economic and social impacts of sudden and unanticipated return home of their migrant workers; and
• Establishing mechanisms to assist migrant workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis secure employment in both sending and receiving countries.

Making migration a building block for international and regional trade
Consideration could be given to:
• Promoting bilateral and regional labour and trade agreements that reduce barriers to the international flow of labour, including by addressing aspects of economic migration, such as admission procedures, mutual recognition of education and qualifications, gender issues, family reunification and integration policy;
• Providing developing countries with tangible opportunities for mode 4 services exports to developed countries through commercially meaningful multilateral commitments on mode 4 under the GATS; and
• Promoting the positive role of migration in deepening regional integration by mainstreaming migration into national trade policies.