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January 2019, Volume 25, Number 1

GCM, Remittances, ANZ

The UN's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), which includes 23 objectives to improve the management of international migration, was adopted by 164 of the UN's 193 member states in Marrakesh, Morocco in December 2018 and then formally adopted by the UN's General Assembly. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, and the United States voted no, and 12 other countries abstained from voting on the GCM.

The US statement said: "We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the UN to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests." Belgium's minority government fell after its PM signed the GCM, prompting the Flemish separatist party known as the N-VA to withdraw its support.

The GCM is not legally binding, but the US and other countries nonetheless argued that it impinges on national sovereignty. President Trump, addressing the UN General Assembly September 25, 2018, said "The only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again."

Reactions to the GCM suggest that migration may move into the realm of regime rather than normal politics. Normal politics involves issues on which there is broad agreement on the ends, but disagreement on the means, such as agreement that immigration is mutually beneficial for immigrants and Americans but disagreement on exactly who and how many immigrants should be admitted. Regime politics involve disputes over ends, such as whether to be open to immigrants or not.

Globalization has increased flows of capital and labor over national borders. Some talk of migration as the "missing global regime" because there is not a World Migration Organization analogue to the WTO to encourage countries to open their doors wide to immigrants.

The GCM and the SDGs call for measuring and reducing recruitment or migration costs. Low-skilled workers often pay more to find jobs in other countries than high-skilled workers, primarily because there are more low-skilled workers seeking jobs abroad than there are jobs available.

Remittances. The World Bank estimated that remittances to developing countries were $528 billion in 2018. Half of remittances were received by six countries: India received $80 billion, China ($67 billion), Mexico and the Philippines ($34 billion each), and Egypt ($26 billion) and Nigeria ($25 billion). Remittances were the largest share of GDP in ex-USSR countries and island states, led by the Kyrgyz Republic, where remittances were 36 percent of GDP, and Tonga, 35 percent.

In the Americas, Mexico was the leading recipient of remittances, at $34 billion, followed by Guatemala, $10 billion, and the Dominican Republic, $7 billion. Haiti was most dependent on remittances, with private money transfers accounting for 26 percent of GDP, followed by Honduras, 20 percent, and El Salvador, 19 percent.

The average cost of remitting $200 over national borders was seven percent of the amount transferred. Remittance costs are lowest in South Asia at five percent of the amount transferred, and highest in Sub-Saharan Africa at nine percent.

Migrant Workers. The UN reported 258 million international migrants in 2017, and the ILO estimated that 164 million of these migrants, 70 percent of migrants 15 and older, were in the labor force of the countries to which they moved. The ILO estimated 150 million migrant workers in 2013, suggesting an average increase of 3.5 million a year between 2013 and 2017.

Men were 58 percent of migrant workers in 2017. The share of men 15 and older who were in the labor force was 75 percent for both migrant and native men, but the share of migrant women in the labor force, 64 percent, was higher than for native women, 48 percent.

Over 111 million migrant workers, 68 percent, were in the high-income countries with a sixth of the world's 3.5 billion workers. Migrants were almost 20 percent of workers in high-income countries, but less than five percent of workers in low-income countries.

By region, 24 percent of migrant workers in 2017 were in Europe, 23 percent were in North America, and 14 percent were in the Arab states. Almost 41 percent of all workers in the Arab states were migrants, followed by 21 percent of all workers in North America and 18 percent of all workers in Europe.

Trends. The World Bank reported that the share of people living in extreme poverty, or less than $2 a day in 2018, fell from half in 1980 to less than 10 percent today. Improvements in public health and education have reduced child mortality and illiteracy via government investments and globalization.

Much of the drop in extreme poverty was a result of the Chinese economic miracle. Per capita income in China rose 25-fold between 1978 and 2018.

ANZ. Australia had a 190,000 ceiling on immigrants in 2017-18 and admitted 162,400 immigrants, including 68 percent via the skill stream. Two-thirds of the primary visas for skilled immigrants went to professionals. Over half of the skill-stream visas went to foreigners already in Australia, including 85 percent of the skilled foreigners who were sponsored by employers.

The top three countries of origin for 2017-18 immigrants were India, 20 percent; China, 13 percent; and the UK, eight percent. Over half of 2017-18 immigrants plan to live in New South Wales and Victoria.

A December 2018 Scanlon poll found 43 percent of respondents agreeing that immigration to Australia was too high, 35 percent agreed it was about right, and 17 percent thought immigration levels were too low. Over half of older Australians want to reduce immigration, citing overcrowding and rising house prices.

Australia in 2001 began a Pacific Solution to deal with migrants who fly to Indonesia and hire smugglers to take them by boat to Australia to apply for asylum. Boats are intercepted before they reach Australia, and migrants are taken to Pacific islands for processing. Those found to be refugees can be accepted for resettlement in third countries, but may not come to Australia.

Labor governments in power between 2007 and 2013 stopped sending migrants to Pacific Islands, but the Liberal-National coalition elected in 2013 resumed offshore processing under Operation Sovereign Borders. Boats have stopped trying to take migrants from Indonesia to Australia, but the fate of almost 2,000 remains undecided. Over 600 migrants remain on Nauru, and another 600+ on PNG's Manus island, and there are almost 700 "unlawful non-citizens" in Australia, that is, asylum seekers brought from Nauru and Manus to Australia for medical treatment.

Some of these migrants have been rejected for resettlement in third countries, such as persons from Iran, Syria and Somalia whom the US does not resettle. New Zealand has offered to take 150 migrants a year from Nauru and Manus, and Australia is debating how to prevent asylum seekers who settle in New Zealand from moving to Australia.

Nauru, a country of 11,000 that was once rich from phosphate exports, today depends on Australian aid for most of its government revenue. Activists in Australia want the government to allow children in families deemed to be refugees to come to Australia before the end of 2018, saying that people in the camps are losing hope and committing suicide.

In a bid to promote development on Pacific Islands and to fill farm jobs in Australia, the Seasonal Worker Program allows farmers who fail to recruit local workers to employ Pacific Islanders. There has been no cap on the number of Pacific Islander farm workers since 2015-16, and almost 10,000 arrived in 2017-18.

There are four times more Working Holiday Makers or backpackers, some 40,000 in 2017-18. These 18- to 30-year olds from European and Asian countries receive one-year work-and-vacation visas and, if they work at least three months in fruit and vegetable agriculture during their first year in Australia, they can work a second year in any Australian job.

There are two backpacker visas, 417 for citizens of developed countries and 462 for those from developing countries. Backpackers pay their own way to Australia, and most pay for their accommodation in hostels that also charge them for rides to the fields. Farmers do not have to try to recruit Australians before hiring backpackers.

Some of those concerned about development on Pacific Islands want the Australian government crack down on backpackers so that farmers hire more Pacific Islanders. However, in November 2018 the government announced that backpackers who do farm work for at least six months in their first two years may stay a third year in Australia and work in any job. The age for WHMs was raised from 18 to 30 to 18 to 35.

Some expect the number of backpackers who do farm work to rise to at least 50,000, and for more backpackers to work longer in Australian agriculture. Taiwan is currently the number one source of backpackers who do farm work during their first year in order to stay a second year in Australia, with 7,000 qualifying for their second year in 2017-18, followed by Korea, the UK and Italy.

New Zealand admits up to 10,500 seasonal workers from Pacific Islands to fill farm jobs under a Recognized Seasonal Employer Program.

South Africa. The African National Congress has governed South Africa since 1994, but it is increasingly clear that ANC efforts to help the Blacks who are 80 percent of residents enriched the Black elite connected to the ANC rather than most Blacks. In the past few years, some ANC power brokers hired people to kill their rivals.

The three Gupta brothers from India are emblematic of ANC corruption problems. After moving to South Africa to sell shoes, they made one of ex-President Jacob Zuma's sons a partner and were able to buy a coal mine and media business. After the ANC ousted Zuma in February 2018, the Guptas moved many of their profits to India and Dubai.

The ANC's Black Economic Empowerment policies required white businesses to take on black partners. During the first decade of BEE, many leaders got rich via white South African businesses. During the next decade, colored South Africans such as the Guptas cultivated ties to government mining officials to get favored treatment. By 2016, the Guptas were the only non-white family among South Africa's 10 richest families, with almost $1 billion in assets.

ILO. 2018. ILO Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers.

UN DESA. 2017. International Migration Stock: the 2017 Revision.