In 2010, I wrote a blog on the situation of the H1-B visas. At that time, the slow recovery of the US economy was affecting the hiring of high-skilled immigrants. Now, that the U.S.
Foreign aid has always been a contentious issue – especially when donor countries are in recession or trying to struggle out of one, while (some) formerly developing countries emerge with a stable and growing economy. From the viewpoint of policy makers in donor countries, the issue certainly has two sides: allocating support to the poorest countries in the world or those plagued by hunger and conflict, or stocking up much needed domestic programs for the poor and disadvantaged at home. Pressure from national interest groups is likely to push policy-makers toward domestic programs.
Migration flows in both directions between the United States and Mexico have diminished according to recent statistics released by the Mexican and United States governments.
Mexican immigration to the United States began to decline in the mid-2006, and that pattern has continued into 2010. The Pew Hispanic Center analysis of Mexican government data indicates that the number of Mexicans annually leaving Mexico for the U.S. declined from more than one million in 2006 to 404,000 in 2010. Rand Corporation also found that the Mexican immigrants returning to Mexico have not increased despite the crisis.
The subject of innovation is slowly but surely on the rise; as nations realizing the steady shift from resource to the inevitable knowledge based global economy demand high speed innovation to stay ahead of the competition. From Japan to Colombia, Washington DC to Bulawayo - politicians are emphasizing retooling education for innovation.
When Chinese president Hu Jintao visited the US this month, many issues made headlines, but one that didn’t is nonetheless important: clean energy cooperation, competition, or both. This issue is a litmus test for the two superpowers’ ability to build a partnership based on mutual needs and opportunities. The outcome will affect our global economic, environmental and geopolitical future, and may influence the range of clean energy opportunities for emerging economies in fundamental ways.
Cooperation does exist between the US and China, with longstanding joint work on energy efficiency standards, and through a new but underfunded US-China Clean Energy Research Center. But the game has to be raised with higher-profile actions. Far more can be gained globally if a spirit of cooperation permeates the high-level political dialogue. These are not the only two nations to watch, but because they are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, and the two largest economies on the planet, signs of a shared vision of the future would mean a great deal.
The two countries need each other to build the clean energy economy. China needs energy to grow, and can drive the exponential growth needed to move renewable energy to the center of the global energy system. The US has a nimble and deep research and development system, and serial innovators and entrepreneurs whose Silicon Valley mentality has created wealth many times over. US capital market and enterprise management capacities are huge.
The United States has recently signed separate Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with El Salvador and Honduras to assist them in securitizing their future remittance receipts to raise financing for infrastructure and development projects. Under the Building Remittance Investment for Development, Growth, and Entrepreneurship (BRIDGE) initiative, banks in these countries will leverage their future remittance receipts to raise lower-cost and longer-term financing in international capital markets to fund infrastructure, public works, and commercial development initiatives (see press release).
In a speech in New York City on September 22, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained how BRIDGE would work to raise critically needed development funding:
“…Now, if they [migrants] send these remittances through the formal financial system, they create huge funding flows that are orders of magnitude larger than any development assistance we can dream of. By harnessing the potential of remittances, BRIDGE will make it easier for communities in El Salvador and Honduras to get the financing they need to build roads and bridges, for example, to support entrepreneurs, to make loans, to bring more people into the financial system…..Through BRIDGE and its in-country partners, local banks will be able to leverage their remittance flows….With the leverage from remittances, the local banks will be able to get lower-cost, longer-term financing for investments in infrastructure projects and small businesses.”
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed by President Obama last month has a little something for poor migrants who send money home – it includes the following:
- Remittance service providers (RSPs) will be required to disclose to remitters the equivalent amount that will be received in local currency by the beneficiary, the exchange rate used for the remittance transaction, the cost of the transaction, and the date of delivery to the recipient.
- RSPs will need to provide consumers access to error-resolution mechanisms and remedies (including refunds). RSPs would need to provide the contact details of the relevant regulatory authority in the receipt at the time of the transfer. RSPs will also need to provide the information on pricing and error-resolution procedures in the language in which they advertize and promote their remittance services (e.g. Spanish to Mexican migrants, Amharic to Ethiopian migrants etc.).
- Remittances will be included in the strategy for financial literacy for low-income communities, as part of the US government’s Strategy for Assuring Financial Empowerment (SAFE).
- The Federal Reserve and Treasury will work to extend automatic clearinghouse (ACH) systems and other payment systems for remittances to foreign countries, with a focus on countries that receive significant remittance transfers from the US.
- A report will be prepared on the feasibility of using remittance history to improve credit scores and the legal and business model barriers to such credit scoring.
(An excellent summary of the Act is provided by Appleseed.)
“Name’s John. Hi!” he said.
“Thanks. Glad to meet you. My name is Dilip,” I replied as I put my carry-on bag on the seat and moved aside the pillow and the blanket to make space for myself. After a hectic week at Dakar, I was hoping the seat next to me would be empty. But it wasn’t.
John, my co-traveler, was short, brown, and middle-aged. There was a nondescript baseball hat on his head through which his pony tail hung behind him, long, more pepper than salt. He was wearing brown jeans and blue shirt. He had taken off his shoes and was wearing socks from the travel kit provided by the airline.
“Yes. And from Washington DC, to New Mexico.” He said he lived in the Navajo Nation just south of Colorado.
“Are you returning from the game in South Africa?” I asked.
“Yeah. The first time I saw a soccer game in my life. It was great. I’m a coal miner, in New Mexico. My company sent me to watch the World Cup. We were 150 of us from all over the world. We were there for 5 days.”
I opened the overhead locker to put my bag in before the take-off. “Is that your vuvuzela?” I asked.
“No. Probably belongs to the lady over there.”
“Football, or soccer, is the number one game in the world,” I said.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) presented their Final Report on The Bangladesh Household Remittance Survey 2009 in a workshop held in Dhaka on May 12, 2010. This survey collected data from a nationally representative sample of 10,926 migrant households. The findings of the survey confirm most of what we know about migration and remittance based on smaller surveys and anecdotal evidence. In particular, the findings are in line with the ones from the World Bank Survey (2007), which was smaller in scope.
I summarize below what appears to me as some emerging stylized facts about the profile of Bangladeshi migrants and their remittance behavior.
Migrants tend to be young (32 years old on average) married males who have at least completed primary education (over 75 percent). They go to the Middle-East (nearly 73 percent) and Asia (22) with the help of relatives (55 percent) and intermediaries (45 percent) after obtaining a low skilled or semi skilled job contract (79 percent) for which they had to wait for about 6 months.
On December 08, 2009, President Obama outlined a proposal to encourage small business to hire workers in 2010 by opening lines of credit and offering tax breaks. The impact of this proposed measure will be different for foreign-born low-tech entrepreneurs and foreign-born high-tech entrepreneurs. Prior to the crisis, self-employment was spreading among foreign workers in USA and in Europe. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (2007) “the self-employment rate for foreign-born residents of the Unites States has grown faster that of native born residents over the past ten years”. Lack of access to employment opportunities commensurate with immigrants’ human capital may encourage them to look for self employment, business alternatives.
High-skill and low-skill immigrant entrepreneurs tend to concentrate in certain niches. For example, Salvadorian, Colombian and Dominican firms are concentrated in retail sales and business services (Robinson, 2005). Immigrant-owned firms are mainly retail, wholesale, personal and professional service enterprises and are typically operated by family members. The management structure is comprised of the immigrant owner and his/her close family members and relatives (Page and Plaza, 2006). Foreign-born founders of “high-impact” companies in high tech sectors are concentrated in business services and engineering services and located in the states with large foreign-born residents such as California and Texas. (Hart, Zoltan and Spencer, 2009).