Trade and Migration (2003)

12 - 14 November 2003
Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the OECD, and the World Bank organized a joint seminar on trade and migration, which was held on 12-14 November 2003 in Geneva. The seminar brought together internationally for the first time trade and migration officials for an informal exchange of views on the relationship between migration and trade, in particular the supply of services via the temporary movement across borders of natural persons, or "Mode 4" of the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
 
GATS Mode 4 represents the only multilateral treaty-based regime for managing the temporary movement of certain categories of persons in existence today. There has been comparatively less progress in liberalization of this form of trade in services than other forms of trade -- in goods, capital, and other types of service provision.

At its most fundamental level, the seminar explored prospects for greater progress in enabling the movement of persons as suppliers of services in today's increasingly integrated global economy. Progress in Mode 4 is seen by many as the litmus test for the services negotiations in the WTO Doha Development Round, since a key area of comparative advantage for many developing countries is the human capital and resources they have to offer for the international economy and for the development of their home countries.

Participants included the member states and observer states and organizations (inter-governmental and non-governmental) of the IOM, WTO and OECD. In addition to the three co-sponsoring organizations, partner organizations such as the WTO, UNCTAD and ILO supported and contributed to the seminar, as did representatives of employers and unions.

Agenda, Final Report and Supporting Documents

Agenda

The agenda balanced issues of interest to both trade and migration authorities, and included a practical focus on what can - and cannot - be achieved in the context of the GATS negotiations. The three days of the agenda were structured around three main issues.

Final Report

The executive summary of the report provides background on the seminar and an overview of the main isssues discussed as well as conclusions of the seminar. The subsequent detailed report summarizes all presentations and provides a synopsis of the discussion under each agenda item.

Day 1: What is the Relationship between Trade and Migration?

Discussion on the first day explored the relationship between trade and migration, situating GATS mode 4 in the context of temporary labour migration and exploring both its importance as a trade issue and the issues it raises from the perspective of migration regulators. The afternoon session focused on the reality of temporary movement, looking at existing approaches to facilitating such movement at the national, bilateral and regional levels.

Day 2: Managing Movement

The second day addressed issues related to the management of this movement, for both sending countries (e.g. labour market and social impacts, security) and receiving countries (remittance management, brain circulation and positive trade linkages). Discussion explored ways to increase policy coordination between sending and receiving countries -- including ensuring that temporary migration remains temporary -- and between migration and trade policy makers.

Day 3: Prospects for the GATS Negotiations for Managing Movement

The final day of the meeting focused more directly on what might be achieved in the context of the GATS negotiations: the categories of workers for which progress might be made, the prospects for facilitating mode 4 movement (the "GATS visa") and the potential to increase effective market access via increased regulatory transparency. A concluding session asked what progress might be feasible in the context of the GATS negotiations and what other ways might there be to make progress.