Research Handbook on International Law and Migration
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Research Handbook on International Law and Migration

Edited by Vincent Chetail and Céline Bauloz

Migration is a complex and multifaceted issue, and the current legal framework suffers from considerable ambiguity and lack of cohesive focus. This Handbook offers a comprehensive take on the intersection of law and migration studies and provides strategies for better understanding the potential of international legal norms in regulating migration. Authoritative analyses by the most renowned and knowledgeable experts in the field focus on important migration issues and challenge the current normative framework with new ways of thinking about the topic.
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Chapter 14: Economic migration and Mode 4 of GATS

Joel P. Trachtman


The World Trade Organization (WTO) does not deal with labour or migration per se, just as it does not deal with finance or investment per se. However, labour has entered the WTO in several ways, including through the subject of trade in services. In fact, there is an important overlap between trade in services concerns and migration concerns. From a trade standpoint, limits on immigration, where immigration is necessary to cross-border trade in services, are barriers to that trade. These barriers include quotas or other quantitative restrictions on immigration, bureaucratic formalities involved with obtaining a visa, visa fees, discrimination against foreign workers, limits on recognition of professional qualifications. Indeed, some States have imposed wage parity conditions that require those employing foreign personnel to pay them a wage similar to that paid to domestic personnel. This is reminiscent of antidumping measures in connection with goods trade. Other States impose economic needs tests or labour market conditions that have not been used in connection with trade in goods or other types of trade in services (although economic needs tests have been scheduled in some sectors under Mode 3). Of course, individuals are not commodities, but there are salient analogies and overlaps between trade and migration.

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