Advancing labour mobility in trade agreements. The lost opportunity in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Author:Meredith B. Lilly
Position:Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Pages:58-73
SUMMARY

Purpose Labour mobility is increasingly recognized as an important component of a globalized international trading system. This paper aims to examine the role of temporary entry commitments in international trade agreements toward facilitating global labour mobility. Design/methodology/approach This paper traces three decades of temporary entry provisions in international trade... (see full summary)

 
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Advancing labour mobility
in trade agreements
The lost opportunity in the
Trans-Pacific Partnership
Meredith B. Lilly
Norman Paterson School of International Affairs,
Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Abstract
Purpose Labour mobility is increasingly recognized as an important component of a globalized
international trading system. This paper aims to examine the role of temporary entry commitments in
internationaltrade agreements toward facilitatingglobal labour mobility.
Design/methodology/approach This paper traces three decades of temporary entry provisions in
international trade agreements signed by the USA and Canada, beginning with their bilateral CanadaUS
Free Trade Agreementand culminating in the Trans-Pacic Partnership(TPP).
Findings The paper nds that while many countries have continued to liberalizetheir temporary entry
commitments in various trade agreements,the USA has reversed course in the previous decade, hampering
internationalprogress. Meanwhile, Canada has pursuedever greater labour mobility provisionswith most of
its tradingpartners.
Practical implications The unique roles played by the USA, Canada and other trading partners in
advancing a coherent international labour mobility agenda are considered. To continue to advance labour
mobilityin trade agreements moving forward,policy alternatives to the allornothingapproaches pursued
by Canadaand the USA are suggested.
Originality/value To the authors knowledge,this paper is the rst to formally evaluate labour mobility
in the TPP and the only paper to outline the evolution of temporary entry in the US vs Canadian trade
agreementsover three decades.
Keywords Canada, US,GATS Mode 4, Labour mobility, Temporaryentry, Trans-PacicPartnership
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Labour mobility is increasingly recognized as an important component of the international
trading system. While the past century has seen an enormous liberalization of the rules
governing the movement of goods and capital through various international trade
agreements, the other major factorof production labour has not liberalized to nearly the
same degree (Hugo, 2008). Globalcompanies and investors regard the ability to move senior
employees and knowledge specialists around the world as essential to their business
The author gratefully acknowledges support to present this paper at the International Agricultural
Trade Research Consortium 2017 Annual Meeting, and helpful feedback provided by its members.
Also, recognized the funding support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. In
addition, the author thanks for helpful comments received from two anonymous reviewers and
participants of Ful bright Canadas TPP workshop at the Univer sity of Hawaii at Manoa, February
2017.
JITLP
18,2
58
Received28 June 2018
Revised3 December 2018
Accepted16 January 2019
Journalof International Trade
Lawand Policy
Vol.18 No. 2, 2019
pp. 58-73
© Emerald Publishing Limited
1477-0024
DOI 10.1108/JITLP-06-2018-0025
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1477-0024.htm
processes (Richardson,2016). Services trade is heavily reliant on such skilled labour, making
the advancement oflabour mobility in trade policy imperative moving forward.
Despite this, facilitating labour mobility through trade and immigration policy remains
one of the most controversial and resisted aspects of global integration (Hufbauer and
Stephenson, 2007;Hugo, 2008). Since the 2008 global nancial crisis, this resistance has
become further entrenched by rising anti-globalization and anti-immigration sentiment in
parts of the Western world. Advocating for greater labour mobility is difcult for political
leaders in such a context, who viewtheir primary obligations as protecting domestic jobs for
their citizens ratherthan furthering the interests of foreign workersor their employers.
Nevertheless, many of these same Westerneconomies are facing demographic pressures,
which compel them to consider the role of immigration in addressing future labour market
shortages. Population aging in countries such as the USA, Canada and much of Western
Europe will result in highold-age dependency ratios (number of persons aged 65 or over,per
100 working-aged persons), which will challenge the capacity of governments to nance
social programs. Although increasing automation of routine tasks may eventually reduce
pressure to attract low-skilled immigrants, it is likely that these countries will work to
attract large numbers of high-skilled immigrants over the long-term (Chanda, 2016;
Edmonston, 2016;UN,2016).
Although the importance of international labour mobility in addressing such labour
shortages is widely acknowledged, less is known about labour mobility provisions in
international trade agreements. This paper explores the evolution of temporary entry
chapters in trade agreements over time and culminating in the Trans-Pacic Partnership
(TPP). Canada and the USA offer interestingcase studies for the exploration of these issues.
Since agreeing to a single set of rules in this regard via the CanadaUS Free Trade
Agreement nearly 30 years ago, the two countries have followed divergent paths toward
temporary entry in subsequent trade agreements. In total, more than 45 countries have
nalized temporary entry provisions in their trade agreements with either the USA or
Canada. In the absence of meaningful multilateral progress under broader international
frameworks such as the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), this series of
modern trade agreements heavily inuence international standardsfor temporary entry for
the twenty-rst century.
I argue that both in its original12-country form and the subsequent 11-country pact that
was ultimately nalized without the USA, the TPP represents a missed opportunity to
advance global labour mobility for the twenty-rstcentury. As demonstrated, this failure is
largely due to the intractable position of US negotiators over the TPPs labour migration
chapter, Temporary Entry for Business Persons, provisions that were never revisited,
following the USAs exit fromthe agreement.
To better understand the dynamics involved, this paper evaluates the temporary entry
commitments undertaken by each TPP partner including the USA. The history of
temporary entry commitments bythe USA vs Canada in previous trade agreements is then
evaluated and exemplies how the two countries have diverged in their approaches over
time. To my knowledge, this paper is the rst to consider these issues for the TPP and to
offer a complete review of the evolution of temporary entry in Canadian vs US trade
agreements to better understand the broader consequences for the international trading
system.
Previous literature on temporary entry provisions in trade agreements
Workers covered by temporary entry provisions in trade agreements include high-skilled
workers with advanced training and education, normally at the post-secondary level.
Labour
mobility
in trade
agreements
59

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