Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Global Forum on Migration and Development 2010

22 Sep 2010 to 24 Sep 2010
Bangkok, Thailand

The objective of the Preparatory Meeting was to provide a forum for government representatives to identify common concerns related to international migration in Asia and the Pacific, which was presented at the Global Forum on Migration and Development held in November 2010 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The Preparatory Meeting adopted an outcome document that was submitted to the GFMD 2010.

Background

GFMD provides a forum for governments to discuss the links between migration and development in an informal, comprehensive and cooperative way. It enables policy makers and experts to debate and exchange ideas, good practices and experiences that support governments in designing effective and coherent migration and development policies. To date, the GFMD has successfully addressed various aspects of international migration. But there remain gaps to be filled and new perspectives to be considered in order to achieve a more comprehensive approach to designing and implementing effective policies.

The theme of the GFMD 2010 was 'Partnerships for migration and human development 'shared prosperity, shared responsibility'. The Preparatory Meeting sought to emphasize particularly 'Asian and Pacific' aspects of international migration and support Asian and Pacific member States to formulate a common position.

Background on substantive issues to be addressed

Migration has undergone some significant changes in recent decades that have impacted on economic and social change both in countries of origin and in host countries.

One change is the fast growth in officially deployed migrant workers, especially in recent years. Another trend is the increase in the number of governments that have initiated programmes to promote the deployment of their own nationals to work overseas, hereby increasing competition among deploying countries. Thirdly, some countries turned from countries of net out-migration to countries of net in-migration. Given the demographic dynamics in many countries with low growth of the labour force, low fertility rates and ageing populations, it is expected that more countries in the region would require in-migration, especially in jobs that the local population may not wish to take.

Migration has benefits to both sending and receiving countries. While the sending countries welcome remittances as the most visible outcome of migration, receiving countries benefit by receiving additional labour force at low cost and being able to fill jobs which may be difficult to fill otherwise. Yet, migration also poses challenges. In the case of sending countries, often cited possible negative effects are on the families left behind, especially children of migrating mothers and a decrease in labour force participation. Host countries are concerned about the negative social and cultural impacts, including competition forged with locals on jobs and reduced wage levels.

The increasing numbers of irregular migrants as well as increased migrant smuggling and human trafficking are also of concern in the region. Finding strategies for more regular and more protected migration would remain a key challenge.

There is thus value in building partnerships to design national and global policies to address these issues. Several countries of origin in the Asian and Pacific region have already designed policies and measures to increase the protection of migrant workers. Cooperation with the host countries could increase the value of these policies. Moreover, while several countries have detailed migration strategies, more can be done to link migration and development.