Trade and Labor Migration GATS Mode 4 and Migration Agreements

Author(s): 
Marion Panizzon

Executive Summary

While trade during the last decade has grown more quickly than international migration, both have “globalized” in the sense that no country in the world today is unaffected by migration.1 Migration has become one of the key distributional issues in globalization, driven by the asymmetric allocation of labor and capital as factors of production around the globe.2 In OECD countries alone, the foreignborn population has grown by about 18% since 2000, even though the old guest worker programs in Europe came to an end with the oil crises in the 1970s.

Nonetheless, in terms of stock, South-South migration is more signifi cant, given that the largest share of migrants from developing countries, an estimated 74 million (47%), reside in other developing countries.4 Even though there is still less migration movement than at the end of 19th century,5 “labor migration lies at the heart of migration management today”.

Half the world’s 200 million international migrants are economically active.7 While 20-50% of the immigrants leave the destination countries within fi ve years after arrival, close to 5 million or 10% of Europe’s 56.1 million migrants had an irregular status in 2000.9 In reaction to these challenges, migrant destination countries such as France, Spain or Switzerland in the fi rst decade of the new millennium initiated wide-ranging immigration law reforms. These sought to shift the ratio of family reunifi cation and asylum towards attracting the highly-skilled in view for countries in Europe to more effectively compete in the “global hunt for talent” alongside Australia, Canada or the US.10 For managing irregular migratory fl ows, bilateral migration agreements were re-designed and became a contested key migration steering tool.