"We want to export goods, not people": The Political Economy of Trade Liberalisation and Labour Migration

Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group
Dr Dan Kim
The Richard King Room, Darwin College
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - 14:10 to 15:00

Trade liberalization efforts through regional trade agreements have been politically bolstered by the promise of curbing immigration pressures. The most recent and explicit example of this is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), where the Mexican President promised: “Migration to the United States [from Mexico] will be dramatically reduced with more trade between U.S., Mexico, and Canada… We want to export goods, not people…” This paper analyses the evidence of the economic assertion that increased trade decreases immigration pressures, particularly in the context of the post-NAFTA era. I find that NAFTA has not lived up to its promise of decreasing migratory pressures. I explore the reasons for this outcome and offer implications for the political economy of trade liberalisation and labour migration.

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