Bilateral Migration Agreements and the GATS: Sharing Responsibility versus Reciprocity

The Journal of Migration and Refugee Issues, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 70-130, 2009

Society of International Economic Law (SIEL) Inaugural Conference 2008 Paper

61 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2008 Last revised: 27 Oct 2010

Date Written: July 8, 2008

Abstract

Shared responsibility calls on countries of origin and destination to share the costs and gains of migration. We portray this legal principle as the regulatory counterpart to MFN liberalization. The recommendations, guidelines and common understandings of the Global Commission on Migration, the International Agenda for Migration Management and the UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development suggest that shared responsibility may balance out the tendency of destination countries to over-regulate and the one of source countries to under-regulate migration. Bilateral migration agreements have been reinforcing the principle. Free trade agreements, including the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) liberalize the temporary movement of workers on the basis of the principle of most-favored nation treatment (MFN). At first sight, shared responsibility may seem to be the more natural choice for steering international migration. In the final analysis, the MFN principle of Article II GATS emerges as the more efficient steering tool. As it stands, the MFN disciplines preferential labor market openings and so takes the pressure off the traditional corridors of migration, which bilateral migration agreements have tended to cement. MFN treatment allows distributing the costs and benefits of migration evenly among countries, irrespective of historical, linguistic and other ties. Without the reciprocity inherent to trade liberalization in goods, however, conditionality should be available to the MFN principle, not least to reciprocate for MFN treatment.

Keywords: Bilateral migration agreements, GATS, MFN Reciprocity, Migration, Foreign workers, Guestworker, Migrant labour, High-skilled workers, International migration

JEL Classification: F02, F10, F22

Suggested Citation

Panizzon, Marion, Bilateral Migration Agreements and the GATS: Sharing Responsibility versus Reciprocity (July 8, 2008). The Journal of Migration and Refugee Issues, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 70-130, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1156842 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1156842

Marion Panizzon (Contact Author)

University of Bern Law School ( email )

Institute of Public Law
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Bern, CH-3012
Switzerland
++41 1 31 631 4199 (Phone)
++41 31 631 3630 (Fax)

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