Migration Provisions in Preferential Trade Agreements: Evolutions and Trends

Executive Summary

 

This paper is part of the World Bank’s Deep Trade Agreement Project that aims at analysing different subsections and topics in preferential trade agreements (PTAs), namely: environmental provisions, intellectual property provisions, dispute settlement etc. The authors (Trung Nguyen, Wenni Zhang, Khalid R. Kamal) have been assigned to examine and interpret the migration related provisions of 293 PTAs that were registered at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

 

In doing so, the authors have developed a Questionnaire Template (Annex I) and the Migration Codebook (Annex II) to “code” the 90 PTAs that have been tagged as “Visa and Asylum” in the World Bank’s database. The objectives and desired results of this paper are to answer: How PTAs address some of the international migration concerns? What are some of the common migration-related provisions that have appeared across the spectrum? And to assess how PTAs have been evolving over times and differs among different geographic areas.

           

After analysing 22 PTAs using the Questionnaire Template and the Codebook developed by the authors, it comes to the following findings:

 

1. Regarding the trends of PTAs:

 

(i) Most PTAs use the positive list approach (more stringent than the negative list approach) for migration issues.

 

(ii) In general, PTAs have addressed migrant workers seeking jobs in companies established in the destination countries and the dependents of migrant workers, which are not addressed under mode 4 of GATS.

 

(iii) Though differs in a geographic sense, PTAs have facilitated the movement of persons seeking jobs or working in the destination states through establishing the mutual recognition of qualification, limiting the time and fees for visa processing, and creating oversight committees to regulate migration.

 

(iv) PTAs tend to exclude workers that seek permanent stay and do not regulate irregular migrant flows (refugees, undocumented workers, victims of human trafficking).

 

(v) PTAs only allow the use of compulsory dispute settlement mechanism to settle migration issues in certain restricted conditions.

 

(2) Regarding the evolution of PTAs:

 

(i) PTAs cover more migration-related issues with increasingly legally binding effects over time.

 

(ii) In a general sense, PTAs signed between South – South countries appear to be the most progressive in terms of liberalizing the movement of natural persons while PTAs signed between North – South countries seem to be the most imbalanced. As sui generis, the community model such as the European Union and the East African Union provide the highest freedom of movement inside the Unions.

 

 

Read the entire project here, including the Questionnaire Template and the Migration Codebook. 

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