Global trade liberalization has mainly focused on facilitating, to the broadest degree possible, the movement of capital, goods and services, rather than the movement of people. Although migration is an increasingly global issue, recognized as holding considerable potential for economic and social growth and development for countries of origin and destination alike, it is at the regional level that comparatively greater progress in addressing the relationship between trade, migration and development has been made. The relative success of regional frameworks in handling mobility issues is not surprising: the limited number of countries involved can offer better possibilities for finding common ground for cooperation, including in addressing complex migration dynamics. In addition, the largest share of migration flows occur within regions, with people increasingly moving for short and recurring stays, underscoring the importance of regional integration agreements and legal frameworks for the management of these flows.
This publication provides a summary of the discussions at a workshop on “Free Movement of Persons in Regional Integration Processes” organized by IOM, in collaboration with UNCTAD, within the framework of IOM’s International Dialogue on Migration. The report analyses the main regional approaches to the liberalized movement of persons, key challenges, and existing policy options. All information contained in this report reflects the situation as at the time of the workshop (July 2007).