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Cablegate: Sadc States Prepare for U.N. Migration Forum (Gfmd)

Published: Fri 2 Oct 2009 10:06 AM
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TAGS: PREL PGOV PREF PHUM SF
SUBJECT: SADC STATES PREPARE FOR U.N. MIGRATION FORUM (GFMD)
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Summary
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1. At a September 21-23 forum in Cape Town, government
officials from fourteen states of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) discussed policies and programs
to leverage migration for economic development. The workshop
was a regional precursor for a wider U.N. event, the Global
Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD), upcoming in
November. Discussion themes included maximizing the benefits
of remittances, mitigating "brain drain," protecting outbound
migrant workers, and integrating inbound migrants. Overseas
diasporas were targeted as sources of foreign direct
investment, as well as of skills transfer through migrant
returns in "circular migration" flows. Participants broke
into working groups to formulate inputs to GFMD sessions, and
they produced a set of 19 broad non-binding resolutions. End
Summary.
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Background: MIDSA and GFMD
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2. The Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA) is an
intergovernmental forum in which officials from fourteen SADC
states discuss policy related to migration. It is organized
annually by the International Organization for Migration
(IOM) and the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP), with
sponsorship from State/PRM. This year's September 21-23
workshop focused on formulating shared regional positions
prior to a larger U.N. event, the Global Forum for Migration
and Development (GFMD), in Athens on November 2-5. Delegates
represented ministries of labor, economic development, and
immigration. The overarching theme was integration of
migration considerations into national and regional policy
and planning frameworks, in order to maximize the benefits of
migration and mitigate its drawbacks to foster socio-economic
development.
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Remittances and Other Benefits
------------------------------
3. Remittances dominate the discourse on migration and
development. The World Bank reports that to sub-Saharan
Africa these amounted to $29 billion in 2008 but were
forecast to fall by eight percent in 2009 due to the economic
crisis. Remittances made up 28 percent of the GDP of
Lesotho, which sends many of its workers to South Africa.
Lesotho allows 30 to 50 percent of workers' salaries to be
remitted home tax-free, provides briefing sessions to
outbound migrants, and has a well-structured visa program for
outgoing domestic workers. In South Africa, which has
experienced heavy migration both in and out since 1994, SAMP
figures show growing two-way flows, reaching $735 million in
and $1,067 million out in 2006 (unfortunately the most recent
figures available). A 2006 SAMP survey of five African
countries found that 84 percent of migrant-sending households
received remittances back. (Yet 80 percent of that money was
sent via informal channels, not banks, showing how hard these
flows are to track.) SAMP's Jonathan Crush said remittances
were mostly used for consumption, and the challenge was to
Qwere mostly used for consumption, and the challenge was to
channel them toward investment and business development.
4. Speakers noted a range of migration benefits. Receiving
countries gain a greater supply of labor (especially in
underserviced areas like nursing and teaching); knowledge
transfer from skilled professionals; potential job creation,
incremental tax revenue, savings and investment; and creation
of links to new export markets abroad. The 2009 U.N. World
Development Report asserts that migrant workers' productivity
is higher than that of nationals in destination countries,
because migrants are forced to establish and prove
themselves. Besides remittances, the benefits for source
PRETORIA 00001984 002.2 OF 003
countries are reduced unemployment, foreign direct investment
by members of the diaspora, and skill gains if or when
migrants return. Within regions, migration yields
cross-border spillover effects of economic development, such
as wage and welfare convergence.
5. Two main pitfalls are "brain drain" and exploitation of
migrants. Half of Zambian migrants in OECD countries are
professionals, according to a 2004 survey. From 1997 to 2005
the number of licensed doctors in Zambia fell from 1,283 to
646, roughly half. Programs to defend migrant workers'
rights were outlined by Faiyaz Qazi, a representative of the
Colombo Process, a regional forum (and MIDSA peer) among ten
Asian labor-sending countries. That forum has developed a
proactive "end to end" set of protections for migrant workers
-- encompassing information campaigns on the risks of
irregular migration, advocacy for minimum wage and work
standards and establishment of reception centers in host
countries, training programs to make member countries'
workers more competitive, establishment of safety-net welfare
funds, and "brain gain" strategies for drawing back knowledge
and technologies from the diaspora.
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Tapping the Diaspora
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6. The rush is on to target diasporas as underexploited
assets. Cautioning that its estimates are quite rough, SAMP
counts 8.8 million Africans in the global North (the majority
7.3 million in the EU), 3.1 million in the South (mainly 2.6
million in the Mideast), and 13.2 million migrated
cross-border within Africa. Of the estimated 1.6 million
SADC nationals outside Africa, 70 percent are in Europe and
only 13 percent in North America. Intraregionally (SADC
nationals in other SADC countries), South Africa predictably
hosts the largest intake (estimated 690,000 persons), with
Zimbabwe a surprising second (450,000), followed by Tanzania
(295,000), Malawi (240,000), and Mozambique (230,000).
7. Canada's International Development Research Centre has
funded an online survey of the SADC diaspora in Canada --
mostly (40-50,000) South Africans, but also including
Tanzanians, Angolans, Congolese, and lately Zimbabweans -- to
assess their incomes and assets, engagement with home
countries, and possible intent and motives for return.
SAMP's Crush says preliminary evidence indicates very high
levels of enduring interest in the nations of origin.
Zimbabwe's delegation corroborated that point, citing surveys
indicating that 58 percent of its diaspora wants to return
one day.
8. Mauritian Anil Kokil outlined a bilateral agreement his
government signed with France to promote "circular
migration," via employment for a certain number of Mauritians
in prescribed job categories over a set number of years,
followed by their return to Mauritius carrying back needed
skills. Migrants are incented to return with investment
capital, to found small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as
engines of job creation and economic growth. (Kokil crowed
Qengines of job creation and economic growth. (Kokil crowed
that the World Bank had coined the phrase "Mauritian
miracle," and his President was invited to breakfast with
President Obama.)
9. Other countries are launching outreach initiatives to
their diasporas. DR Congo has created a Deputy Minister of
Foreign Affairs to liaise with Congolese abroad and represent
their interests at home. The official is tasked with
mobilizing diaspora skills, attracting funds for investment,
and bringing knowledge and technology back into the country.
The Zambian Foreign Affairs Ministry has proposed the idea of
a similar diaspora office. To attract foreign direct
investment from its nationals abroad, the Comoros has offered
them shares in public projects at discounts of up to 50
percent.
PRETORIA 00001984 003.2 OF 003
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Working Groups on GFMD Themes
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10. Participants split into working groups to discuss the
three major themes to be raised at the GFMD in Athens. These
themes, and the groups' flipchart presentations of their
deliberations, are summarized below.
- (A) Migration and Millenium Development Goals (MDGs):
Migration supports poverty eradication through remittances
and diaspora links. With respect to maternal health (and
related HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and child mortality), skills
retention and migrant return programs are most critical,
along with rural socio-economic conditions and technology
transfer. Thirdly, on development partnerships, the group
emphasized the importance of bi-/multilateral agreements.
- (B) Migrant (Re-)Integration: Skill transfer was cited as a
top priority, followed by data collection for planning.
Employment access for migrants should be made equal to that
of nationals. SADC states must ratify the UN conventions
safeguarding human rights of migrant workers. Overseas
nationals should be able to vote through their embassies.
Migrants should be encouraged to participate in community
awareness campaigns and business fora.
- (C) Policy Partnerships: To integrate migration into
planning and programming, data must be collected on migration
trends and push/pull factors. Ministries should be created
to focus on migration and development. Regionally, an
interministerial (and intersectoral) committee could be
formed to facilitate collaboration on migration. Nationally,
ministries of home affairs, labor, finance, and economy
should work closely with international organizations and
NGOs. Migration issues should be accounted for in national
budgets.
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Outcomes: 19 Resolutions
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11. Participants agreed on 19 (non-binding) resolutions to:
- reduce barriers to mobility;
- facilitate remittance flows;
- encourage retention and return of health workers;
- ratify relevant SADC, UN, and ILO conventions;
- emulate best practices, e.g. of the Colombo Process;
- engage myriad stakeholders, especially diasporas;
- generate research data as a basis for policies;
- create programs to support internal migration;
- identify SADC skill gaps to develop skill exchanges;
- confront economic crisis, not undercutting migrants;
- integrate migration into development planning;
- allocate budgets for migration planning and support;
- increase SADC cooperation on migration and development;
- convoke MIDSA at ministerial level;
- copy models of bilateral collaboration, e.g. Mauritius;
- underscore those MDGs most impacted by migration;
- engage and harness skills of diasporas and returnees;
- regularize the status of irregular migrants; and
- carry these recommendations to the GFMD in Athens.
(Note: Unabridged texts of the resolutions have been
forwarded to the Department. End Note.)
GIPS
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