International Experts Meet for Trade and Migration Workshop in Geneva

Migration and Development

Geneva — The rapid expansion of a globalized economy supported by a system of rules, processes and institutions seems to be interacting with migration flows in ways that have not been experienced before.

In order to explore the interlinkages between trade and migration, IOM, the UN Migration Agency in collaboration with the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), hosted a brainstorming workshop titled Advancing a Global Agenda on Trade and Migration on Wednesday (04/07) at IOM headquarters in Geneva.

Over 35 international experts from the fields of trade, migration, and economics, as well as representatives of international organisations and relevant actors in the diplomatic community based in Geneva, participated in the interactive brainstorming.

The workshop built on the inaugural Forum on Migration, Trade and the Global Economy, held back to back with the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina last December.

Opening remarks were delivered by IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson and ICTSD Executive Director Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz.

Ambassador Thompson noted: “We need to do more to understand the linkages between trade and migration — both have been widely recognised in the 2030 Agenda as drivers of development. We need to focus our attention on how migration benefits socio-economic development, through international knowledge transfer, innovation and competitiveness, private sector development and entrepreneurship, to mention just a few.”

Participants examined the multi-faceted economic and development aspects of the trade and migration nexus. They probed key challenges and explored new avenues for coordinated policy actions at national, regional and global levels. Discussions centred around four thematic areas, namely, Trade and Migration: Setting the Scene; Unpacking Linkages between Migration and Trade from the Trade Perspective; Unpacking Linkages between Migration and Trade from the Migration Perspective; and Advancing a Global Agenda on Trade and Migration.

In terms of the way forward, several areas for further research to inform international policy discussions were identified, as were concrete initiatives for potential implementation. The workshop highlighted the need for better data, clearer definitions and conceptual understanding for both the trade and migration spheres. It was also felt that policy makers should interact more with each other, and look at the trade and migration interlinkage in a holistic, multi-stakeholder manner.

‘‘To effectively unpack and act on the nexus between trade and migration, a common conceptual framework, articulated through dialogue between the two epistemic communities, is critical,” said ITCSD Executive Director Melendez-Ortiz. “Furthermore, we need clarity as to: what are the problems the world is seeking solutions for, such that any proposed work to craft policy reform or interventions is specific and meaningful. This includes a clear understanding of the different categories of migrants around which policy will be designed.’’

For more information, please contact IOM HQ: Vanessa Okoth-Obbo, Tel: +41 22 717 93 66, Email:, or Deepali Fernandes, Tel: +41 22 717 95 47, Email: