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13 J. Int'l Trade L. & Pol'y 2 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/jitlp13 and id is 1 raw text is: The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/1477-0024.htm

JITLP
13,1

2

Received 28 December 2012
Revised 21 September 2013
Accepted 20 January 2014
Journal of International Trade Law
and Policy
Vol 13 No. 1, 2014
pp. 2-18
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1477-0024
DOI 10.11081J1TLP-12-2012-0020

Cross-border labor mobility
A critical assessment of WTO's GATS Mode 4
vis- d- vis regional trade agreements
Caf Dowlah
Department of Social Sciences, Queensborough College,
The City University of New York, New York, USA
Abstract
Purpose - The purpose of the paper is to examine convergence of economic interests - both empirically
and theoretically - among labor-abundant (labor-sending) and labor scarce (labor receiving) countries, in
the context of Mode 4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the WTO. The paper also
explores regional trade associations as an interim alternative forum for promoting temporary cross-border
labor mobility in the backdrop of failure of multilateral trade negotiations under the Doha Round.
Design/methodology/approach - The research methodology of the paper involves literature
review, an analysis of databases and theoretical findings, and a critical examination of pertinent
empirical and secondary information on the subject matter.
Findings - The findings reveal that although a convergence of economic interests seem to exist between
the labor-sending and receiving countries for promoting cross-border labor mobility, this sector faces
formidable trade and non-trade barriers across the world, especially in the developed countries.
As multilateral trade negotiations under the Doha Round have failed to make any progress toward
liberalization of this sector, regional trade associations, especially those pursued by the USA, Canada and
Australia, seem to provide a credible alternative vehicle, as an interim measure, for further liberalization of
this sector. These RTAs can serve as examples for other RTAs to promote regional mobility of labor.
Research limitations/implications - Cross-border temporary labor mobility, as envisaged by
GATs of the WTO, is a burgeoning field. Although some serious works are available, especially
sponsored by the World Bank and some leading universities, there is a considerable dearth in this
field, especially in respect to contribution from individual scholars and researchers. This paper fills the
void to some extent by ascertaining factors and forces that help or hinder cross-border mobility, by
pointing out limitations of multilateral trade negotiations under the WTO, and by exploring the
regional trade associations as an interim measure for promoting cross-border labor mobility.
Practical implications - This paper points out factors and forces that help or hinder cross-border
mobility, ascertains crucial limitations of multilateral trade negotiations under the WTO, and explores the
RTAs as an interim measure for promoting cross-border labor mobility - all these would have practical
policy implications.
Originality/value - The originality of the paper lies with its critical and careful review of existing
literature and available databases, with the determination of factors and forces that help or hinder
cross-border mobility in the contemporary world, in pointing out the limitations of multilateral trade
negotiations under the WTO, and in exploring the RTAs as an interim measure for promoting
cross-border labor mobility.
Keywords Cross-border labor mobility, GATS Mode 4, Regional trade associations, Remittance flows,
Service sector liberalization, WTO negotiations, Workers' remittance, Regional trade agreements
Paper type Research paper
This paper is an outgrowth of a research project on cross-border labor mobility undertaken by
the author as a Visiting US Fulbright Scholar in 2012-2013. The author is grateful to the US State
Department for sponsoring the project. The author is also grateful to anonymous referees for
their highly constructive comments and suggestions, which improved the paper significantly.
The author, however, takes full responsibility of the contents of the paper.

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