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International Migration and Economic Integration

International Migration and Economic Integration

Understanding the Immigrant–Trade Link

Roger White and Bedassa Tadesse

This essential volume examines the influence of immigrants on the process of international economic integration – specifically, their influences on bilateral and multilateral trade flows. It extends beyond the identification and explanation of the immigrant–trade link and offers a more expansive treatment of the subject matter, making it the most comprehensive volume of its kind. The authors present abundant evidence that confirms the positive influences of immigrants on trade between their home and host countries; however the immigrant–trade link may not be universal. The operability of the link is found to depend on a variety of factors related to immigrants’ home countries, their host countries, the types of goods and services being traded and the anthropogenic characteristics of the immigrants themselves.

Chapter 3: Immigration Policy, Economic Development and the Immigrant–Trade Link: The Case of the White Australia Policy

Roger White and Bedassa Tadesse

Subjects: development studies, migration, economics and finance, international economics, politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


3 Immigration policy, economic development and the immigrant– trade link: The case of the White Australia Policy In recent decades, the Australian economy has increasingly integrated into the global economy. The rise in the intensity of trade and factor flows between Australia and the rest of the world provides strong evidence. For example, in 1970, Australia’s exports and imports combined were equal to only 26.1 percent of its GDP; however, by 2000 this value had risen to 45.9 percent. Similarly, during this same time period the sum of Australia’s foreign direct investment inflows and outflows as a share of GDP nearly doubled from 2.4 to 4.4 percent. Coincidentally, while the proportion of Australia’s population that was foreign-born increased marginally from 19.9 to 21.3 percent (World Bank, 2006) the ethnic composition of its immigrant inflows underwent a dramatic shift. Namely, the share of immigrants from countries located in Asia (particularly Southeast Asia) and in the Pacific Islands increased considerably while the proportion from European countries decreased. For example, 80.1 percent of the increase in Australia’s foreign-born population during the 1990s was due to immigrant arrivals from Asia and the Pacific. Since a country’s cultural identity can be described as an amalgam of its population’s attitudes, customs and beliefs, it follows that a country’s immigration policy may influence its cultural identity and, by doing so, affect its trade flows. Given the associated policy relevance, establishing a more accurate account of the immigrant–trade relationship is beneficial. In this context, and given the...

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