A recently introduced bipartisan legislation entitled, “The Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012 “ will promote the increase of US exports to Africa. On March 22, U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) jointly with U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) presented a bill to improve the competitiveness of U.S. business in Africa, including African diaspora businesses. The bill also proposes to explore ways to utilize diaspora remittances to Africa for development purposes.
A challenge for developing countries considering issuance of bonds (including diaspora bonds) is costly and onerous SEC registration requirements in the U.S. and Europe. The Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure Act (CROWDFUND Act) passed by the U.S. Senate on March 22 could potentially make the regulatory process simpler for some small-scale financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing country.
Despite the large and growing literatures on migration in economics, sociology, and other social sciences, there is surprisingly little work which actually evaluates the impact of particular migration policies (most of the literature concerns the determinants of migrating, and the consequences of doing so for the migrants, their families, and for native workers). I am therefore always interested to see new work in this area, particularly work which manages to obtain experimental variation in policy implementation.
Originally posted on Matthew Kahn's personal blog: http://greeneconomics.blogspot.com/
At the World Bank yesterday, I learned about this impressive project. While there are a lot of papers to choose from at this website, the "big picture" is sketched below in the report's Executive Summary.
The following is a direct quote:
"This report considers migration in the context of environmental change over the next 50 years.
The scope of this report is international: it examines global migration trends, but also internal migration trends particularly within low-income countries, which are often more important in this context.
Last year 14 million people around the world applied for the 50,000 green cards available through the U.S. Diversity Visa lottery, commonly known as the Green Card lottery.
Perhaps the toughest challenge faced by developed and developing countries alike is the governance of international labor migration. Some countries have developed useful mechanisms that foster economic growth and migrant integration into host societies. But in the United States, a well-informed, high level debate about how to improve employment-based migration management is conspicuously absent from the public discourse. Discussion in the media and debates in Congress typically focus narrowly on the concerns of employers who argue, for example, in favor of raising the numerical limits on two or three temporary visa categories, or those pushing for increased enforcement measures for irregular migrants.
The Economic Policy Institute’s new book, Value-Added Immigration: Lessons for the United States from Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, uses a comparative methodology to help fill this gap in the policy debate on labor migration in the United States. Authored by Ray Marshall, the U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Carter, it suggests how the United States could improve its own system based upon the best practices found in Australia, Canada, and the U.K. These three countries – while far from perfect – have evolved and adapted their migration governance to further a value-added strategy, i.e., one that seeks to improve productivity and innovation and fill labor shortages. They also do a better job of protecting the labor rights of foreign and native workers.
We have updated the data on worldwide remittance flows - including flows to developing countries and high income countries - to $483 billion in 2011. Of this, developing countries received $351 billion in 2011. Worldwide remittance flows are expected to reach $593 billion in 2014.
Officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries are estimated to have reached $351 billion in 2011, up 8 percent over 2010 (See brief).
For the first time since the global financial crisis, remittance flows to all six developing regions rose in 2011. Growth of remittances in 2011 exceeded our earlier expectations in four regions, especially in Europe and Central Asia (due to higher outward flows from Russia that benefited from high oil prices) and Sub-Saharan Africa (due to strong south-south flows and weaker currencies in some countries that attracted larger remittances). By contrast, growth in remittance flows to Latin America and Caribbean was lower than previously expected, due to continuing weakness in the U.S. economy and Spain. Flows to Middle East and Africa were also impacted by the “Arab Spring”.
While we know a lot about the impact of remittances on growth, investment, poverty, inequality, health, and education, the potential effects of international remittances on the domestic financial system and financial inclusion have not received much attention. There are several ways in which remittances could affect financial inclusion (that is, facilitating households’ access to and use of financial services). First, remittances might increase the demand for savings instruments. The fixed costs of sending remittances make the flows lumpy, providing households with excess cash for some period of time. This might potentially increase their demands for deposit accounts, since financial institutions offer households a safe place to store this temporary excess cash. Second, remittances might increase household’s likelihood of obtaining a loan. Processing remittances flows provides financial institutions with information on the income of recipient households. This information might make financial institutions more willing and able to extend loans to otherwise opaque borrowers. On the other hand, since remittances might help relax households’ financing constraints, the demand for credit might fall as remittances increase.
The side event on diaspora bonds organized during the annual meetings of the World Bank and the IMF attracted significant interest. Senior officials in the Bank considered forming a task force to implement diaspora bonds, while the governors of the central bank of Kenya and that of Bangladesh argued in favor the importance of the diasporas as a source of remittances and investments for their countries. Kenya has issued a new series of infrastructure development bonds and is marketing it to retail diaspora investors until February. The governor of the Bank of Bangladesh also expressed strong interest in issuing a diaspora bonds. Separately, Nigeria's finance minister also issued a press release that Nigeria is going to issue a diaspora bond.
More information on this side event is now posted at http://go.worldbank.org/WC69CPEP60.
Saudi Arabia's recent indigenization effort titled "Nitaqat" came into effect on September 10. Saudi firms have been color coded to four categories - Red, Yellow and Green, and Blue/VIP. Firms labeled "Red" will not be able to renew their foreign workers' visas and have until November 26 2011 to improve their status by hiring more Saudi natives. "Yellow" firms have until February 23 2012 to improve their status and will not be allowed to extend their existing foreign employees' work visas beyond six years. "Green” or “Excellent” firms with high Saudization rates will be allowed to offer jobs to foreign workers that are employed by firms in the Red and Yellow categories and transfer their visas. And firms in the highest “VIP” category will enjoy the ability to hire workers from any part of the world using a web-based system with minimal clearance.
International migration is the most effective action that people in developing countries can take to increase their incomes and well-being. Yet our ability to learn about the policies that enhance or inhibit the gains to migration is severely restricted due to the poor state of migration data. One element of this is the lack of representative surveys of immigrants.