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Fostering Cooperation Between Source and Destination Countries
By Susan Martin, Philip Martin, and Patrick Weil
Increasing numbers of people are working outside their home countries, often
moving en masse along economic avenues widened by globalization. A complex set
of factors is driving these population movements, including an oversupply of
workers in countries of origin, labor needs in destination countries, and
formal and informal networks that link supply with demand.
This movement of people, while often beneficial to both sending and receiving
countries, is not without problems. Many of the source countries of migration
to industrialized states in North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region
are in transition to more democratic governments, adherence to human rights
norms, privatized industries, market-set prices, and integration into regional
and global economies. A failure to manage migration streams either through or
from source countries can undermine their economic development and
democratization, thus generating additional migrants. Industrial countries,
meanwhile, are hard-pressed to handle unregulated influxes of many migrants,
and have much to lose when their poorer neighbors suffer political and economic
ills. With so much at stake, effective cooperation to manage migration is
becoming more urgent for both source and destination countries.
The Cooperative Efforts to Manage Emigration (CEME) project of the Migration
Dialogue examines ways in which immigration destinations can work more
effectively with source and transit countries to manage migration and reduce
emigration pressures. The best practices identified to date by CEME deal with
all of the main factors driving this migration, focusing on the causes of
emigration in source countries, the networks that move people over borders, and
managing migration in a cooperative manner that is consistent with both source
and receiving countries' interests. In an increasingly interconnected world,
fostering sustained cooperation of this type is essential not only in migration
management, but also in building support for market economies and democratic
To research the best practices in the field, CEME's 20 immigration experts from
Europe and North America have completed site visits to the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, Turkey, Mali, and the Dominican Republic.
Lessons from other countries in transition, such as Mexico and Morocco, have
also been considered. Best practices fall into the following areas:
Cooperation on International Migration Management
There are a number of ways to achieve cooperation between source and receiving
countries, including bilateral agreements and efforts mounted under
As one example, Mali and France have established the Mali-France Consultation
on Migration, an annual bilateral discussion at the ministerial level. In an
official agreement signed in December 2000, representatives of the two
countries agreed to meet at least once a year to deal
with three issues: 1) the integration of Malians who want to remain in France;
2) co-management of migration flows; and 3) cooperative development in
emigration areas of Mali.
The United States and Mexico also have a joint working group that discusses
border issues, visa policy, documentation, cooperation in combating smuggling
and trafficking, protection of the rights of Mexican migrant workers in the
US, removal of criminal aliens, joint research projects, among other issues.
The Regional Migration Conference, or Puebla Group, convenes similar
discussions among a broader set of countries in North America, Central America, and
one strategy is sufficient to overcome the economic and political problems
that compel international movements. Rather, a combination of trade, investment,
and aid is needed."
These mechanisms are not meant to undermine the sovereign responsibility of
each government to manage the movements of people into or out of their
countries, but instead to provide an opportunity to negotiate more manageable
policies and procedures. They also enable the countries to respond jointly to
such problems as smuggling and trafficking that can only be effectively tackled
by efforts at the regional and bilateral levels.
One of the most significant Italian-Albanian cooperative efforts is a joint
police program to combat smuggling and trafficking. Initially targeted at
training and technical assistance, the Italian-Albanian cooperation on
migration enforcement has undergone a shift during the past year. The Italian
presence has been reduced, but the new cooperation takes the form of joint
operations against smugglers. Much of this bilateral cooperation is now
focused on the problem of transit migration, rather than stopping illegal
Albanian migration. By some estimates, 80 percent of the migrants leaving
Albania for Italy are not Albanians. The mutual interest of Italy and Albania
in reducing these flows makes it easier for them to cooperate. Similar
cooperation was seen in the efforts of officials of the United States and the
Dominican Republic to work together to stem smuggling and trafficking of third
country nationals destined for Puerto Rico and then onto the mainland of the
There is also considerable interest in destination countries in helping source
and transit countries to establish the systems needed to manage immigration to
their own territory. With the help of international organizations, Albania is
developing governmental capacity to deal with foreigners seeking asylum. The
Albanian government signed the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of
Refugees in 1992, and began developing the appropriate domestic legislation and
institutions with the aim of having asylum laws that would speed integration
into the European Union.
Soon after the October 2000 ouster of the then president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic,
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia also felt pressure from the EU to prepare
new legislation and mechanisms for adjudicating asylum applications and began a
process similar to that of Albania. These interactions were not always smooth,
however. Although recognized as important, the Yugoslav authorities felt the
new government should place greater emphasis on demilitarizing its border
police and combating the smuggling and trafficking operations that had been
established under the old regime.
The governments of many source countries believe the tradeoff for such
cooperation should be the expansion of legal channels for immigration as
irregular movements from and through their countries are curtailed. This is an
area where fewer best practices exist. Negotiations between the United States
and Mexico for temporary work and regularization programs broke down after the
September 11 attacks and have not yet been resuscitated. Similarly, the failure
of the Italian government to announce this year's quota of labor visas for
Albanians could well undermine cooperation on managing transit movements. Part
of the unofficial quid pro quo - cooperation on enforcement in exchange for work
visas and other assistance - was now missing.
On the other hand, France and Mali appear to have achieved some progress in
this area. Traditionally, visa policies seriously restricted family
reunification and visits as well as business travel and study abroad. Since
1997, France has had a new visa policy that requires French consulates to
justify some denials of visas (to parents of French citizens, students, etc).
France issued about 25,000 visas to Malians in 2001 compared to 7,000 in 1997.
In exchange for facilitating free circulation of bona fide travelers, French
authorities urged Malian authorities to cooperate in reducing corruption in the
issuance of visas. In October 2001, a former sports minister was indicted and
sent to jail for trafficking in visas.
Migrants as Resources for Development in Their Homelands
Migrants can contribute to economic development through their financial
resources as well as their skills, entrepreneurial activities, and support for
democratization and human rights. For example, associations of migrants often
band together to raise and remit funds for infrastructure development and
income generation activities in their home communities. Migrant groups as
dissimilar as Malians in France and Mexicans in the United States have
supported health clinics, built schools, repaired roads, and invested in small
business enterprises in their home communities.
Individual remittance transfers continue to be an important source of
subsistence for many families in developing countries. Governments can
cooperate to facilitate such transfers, provide technical assistance to ensure
their effective use, match the funds to stimulate additional contributions,
regulate transfer fees and exchange rates to reduce transaction costs, and take
other steps to promote effective use of remittances for economic development.
"Countries as diverse as Mali, Yugoslavia, and Mexico hope to build on the
human capital of their émigrés."
Governments can also work together to increase the potential for migrants to
bring needed skills to their home countries. For example, migrants with
long-term residence permits may be more willing to return home if they do not
fear losing such permits if they stay away for prolonged periods. Programs
that identify migrants with specific skills needed by their home countries and
facilitate return and reintegration also contribute to economic development, as
does support for return migrants who plan to open small businesses upon
reintegration. The skills may be needed for economic development, but they may
also be required to help move the source country towards greater
democratization and respect for human rights. For example, migrants who have
legal training may be helpful in developing new judicial systems and
establishing the rule of law.
Countries as diverse as Mali, Yugoslavia, and Mexico hope to build on the human
capital of their émigrés. For example, the TOKTEN project (Transfer Of
Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals) aims to persuade Malians established
abroad to return at least temporarily and contribute to their homeland's
development. Among other ways, returning Malians can do this by teaching at
Mali's 25,000-student university, which was established in 1996 and then expanded
rapidly. The UN Development Program has paid for 133 Malians to return as
consultants to help teach and do research.
The Malian situation is particularly interesting because of the involvement of
the French government in encouraging such investment in human capital. A fund
of 2.6 million euros will finance in 2002-2004 the mobilization of Malians
abroad for the service of the Malian education system, economy, and small
business development. The skills of Malians in France will be systematically
registered and the information co-managed by a French-Malian committee. The
fund will supplement financing of local projects by the Malian diaspora. In addition,
a contract will be signed with a Malian bank to guarantee loans to small
businesses that need additional funding to expand.
France also funds an assisted return program as part of its development
strategy. About 500 unauthorized Malians in France have agreed to return
voluntarily in exchange for CFA 2.5 million ($3,600). They have opened
businesses, most related to agriculture, and also run hair salons, import used
auto parts, sew traditional dresses, and dredge sand. They receive weekly
visits for one year from the program's offices in Mali, and it was reported
that 80 percent of the participants were still in business after two years.
This French model helps to re-integrate migrants, but its potential for
expansion may be limited. Many of the small businesses begun by returnees had
difficulty obtaining bank loans for expansion, in part because they did not
have Malian track records and guarantees.
The diaspora community can also help stimulate political reforms that improve
conditions in home countries. Mexican migrants in the United States have been
consistent forces for democratization and better governance in their home
country, and Mexican political candidates have responded by campaigning
extensively in US communities. The leadership in Yugoslavia expressed the
hope that Serbs abroad would provide not only financial resources for
rebuilding the country, but also technical expertise as Serbia establishes its
new democratic institutions. International migration has helped spur the
democratic reforms. Malians living in Europe and North America have also
brought back home some of the lessons learned in western democracies. At a
village meeting in Marena, a number of return migrants observed that they
expected to participate in community meetings and decision-making.
This is not to say that the experience of the diaspora is always positive in
stimulating respect for democratic values. Some returning Malian migrants
appear particularly reluctant to expose Malian women and girls to western
values if it means undermining cultural traditions, observing vehemently that
they would never allow their wives or daughters to migrate with them to Europe
or North America. In some cases, returning migrants appear to have become more
socially and religiously conservative as a result of their own migration
Targeting Aid, Trade, and Investment at Emigration Communities
Providing the means by which people can stay home and enjoy greater economic
opportunities is another aspect of cooperative actions to manage emigration.
Migration should be voluntary on the part of the migrant and the receiving
community, not forced by economic or political conditions in the home
community. Similarly, migrants should be able to return voluntarily to home
communities that are economically stable and safe. No one strategy is
sufficient to overcome the economic and political problems that compel
international movements. Rather, a combination of trade, investment, and aid is
Ideally, economically motivated migration will decrease under a global system
of free trade because of factor price equalization, that is, the tendency of
wages to equalize as workers move from poorer to richer countries. In the
terms of economic theory, this means that trade and migration are
substitutes--countries that have relatively cheaper labor can export
labor-intensive goods or workers. Over time, differences in the prices of
goods and the wages of workers should be reduced with freer trade, reducing
emigration pressures. The European Union model for the economic integration of
new members, prior to permitting free movement for work purposes, attests to
the potential benefits of this approach. By the time that the new members from
southern Europe with much lower wages - Spain, Portugal, and Greece - were eligible
for free movement of labor, few workers took advantage of the opportunity
because of high growth rates and job opportunities in their own countries. Such
Asian countries as South Korea have also gone through this transition, with levels of emigration declining substantially as trade-based
economic opportunities opened up at home.
The North American Free Trade Agreement also has the mid to long-term
objective of reducing emigration pressures in Mexico, which has far lower wages
than its trading partners, although NAFTA does not envision eventual free labor
movements. There is broad recognition, however, that in the short term,
emigration pressures may well increase as economies integrate and workers from
poorer countries see greater opportunities in richer ones. This migration hump
appears to be occurring in the Mexican case, but with continued reduction in
birth rates and renewed economic growth, wage rates should begin to rise in
Mexico and jobs should become more plentiful.
An economy can grow faster if there is foreign direct investment (FDI) in
factories, machinery, education, and infrastructure that makes workers more
productive. Foreign firms are often attracted by the lower-cost labor in
countries of emigration, presumably giving workers economic opportunities at
home rather than abroad. However, at least in the Italian-Romanian case,
immigration and FDI appear to be complementary. At present, Italian-owned
factories visited by CEME in the western Romanian city of Timisoara provide
employment for local workers, particularly women, as well as internal migrants
coming from the much poorer eastern Romanian province of Moldavia. The number
of Romanians in Italy increased as well, from 6,000 in 1998 to 21,000 in 1999.
Italian firms have pressed the Italian government to make it easier to admit
Romanians, particularly for training. Recognizing the legitimate business
interest in opening up this form of migration, an Italian pilot program aims to
use recruitment, remittances, and returns to accelerate development in Romania
and to ensure that migration is temporary or circular, i.e., that the migrants
who come to Italy for training return home. A similar model can be seen in the
maquiladoras along the US-Mexico border and in such cities as Guadalajara.
Official Development Assistance (ODA) is aid granted by one country to assist
the development of another. In 1998, the OECD nations that are members of the
Development Assistance Committee provided $52 billion in ODA, down from $59
billion in 1995, and $53 billion in 1990. Four of the 21 OECD countries
providing aid reached the UN target of contributing 0.7 percent of GDP in 1994
- Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands. OECD nations collectively
provided aid equivalent to 0.3 percent of their GDP in 1993, down from 0.4
percent in 1983.
ODA alone is unlikely to stimulate sufficient economic development to deter
emigration. Aside from problems caused by inadequate levels and inappropriate
use of aid resources, there is the need to target aid more effectively at the causes
of migration. Examples of targeted aid include micro-credit for would-be
migrants who would prefer to invest in their home communities, income
generation opportunities for women left behind by migrating spouses,
infrastructure development to create new markets and economic opportunities in
emigration centers, and education and health care services for families in such
The French co-development approach seeks to target ODA at emigration areas in
all of francophone Africa, with government support supplementing the
contributions of migrants discussed above. This is a positive strategy of
earmarking ODA to reduce emigration pressures, as distinct from the punitive
proposal rejected by the European Union to withdraw ODA from countries that are
insufficiently cooperating with destination countries, particularly regarding
the return of unauthorized migrants.
The factors leading to population movements are many and complex: supply or
push factors in countries of origin; demand or pull factors in countries of
destination; and formal and informal networks that link supply with demand. The
best practices identified to date by CEME deal with all three factors, focusing
on the causes of emigration in source countries, the networks that move people
over borders, and the relations between receiving and source countries in
managing migration in a manner that is consistent with both countries'
Fostering sustained cooperation of this type is crucial not only in migration
management, but also in building support for market economies and democratic
principles, and will become increasingly important as the world becomes more
For more information, including full background papers and CEME site visit reports, see the special issue of International Migration, "Managing Emerging Migration Patterns," vol. 40, no. 3, 1/2002.
Susan Martin is Director of the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University. Philip Martin is a Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California at Davis. He is also Chair of University of California Comparative Immigration & Integration Program and Editor of the monthly Migration News. Patrick Weil is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) at the University of Paris I (Sorbonne), and President of the Groupe permanent du Haut Conseil à l'intégration, Chargé des statistiques.
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