Labour Migration, Trade and Investment: From Fragmentation to Coherence

Cottier, Thomas; Sieber, Charlotte (2015). Labour Migration, Trade and Investment: From Fragmentation to Coherence. In: Panizzon, Marion; Zürcher, Gottfried; Fornalé, Elisa (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of International Labour Migration: Law and Policy Perspectives (pp. 41-73). New York: Palgrave Macmillan

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Trade, investment and migration are strongly intertwined, being three key factors in international production. Yet, law and regulation of the three has remained highly fragmented. Trade is regulated by the WTO on the multilateral level, and through preferential trade agreements on the regional and bilateral levels – it is fragmented and complex in its own right. Investment, on the other hand, is mainly regulated through bilateral investment treaties with no strong links to the regulation of trade or migration. And, finally, migration is regulated by a web of different international, regional and bilateral agreements which focus on a variety of different aspects of migration ranging from humanitarian to economic.
The problems of institutional fragmentation in international law are well known. There is no organizational forum for coherent strategy-making on the multilateral level covering all three areas. Normative regulations may thus contradict each other. Trade regulation may bring about liberalization of access for service providers, but eventually faces problems in recruiting the best people from abroad. Investors may withdraw investment without being held liable for disruptions to labour and to the livelihood and infrastructure of towns and communities affected by disinvestment. Finally, migration policies do not seem to have a significant impact as long as trade policies and investment policies are not working in a way that is conducive to reducing migration pressure, as trade and investment are simply more powerful on the regulatory level than migration.
This chapter addresses the question as to how fragmentation of the three fields could be reme-died and greater coherence between these three areas of factor allocation in international economic relations and law could be achieved. It shows that migration regulation on the international level is lagging behind that on trade and investment. Stronger coordination and consideration of migration in trade and investment policy, and stronger international cooperation in migration, will provide the foundations for a coherent international architecture in the field.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


02 Faculty of Law > Department of Economic Law > NCCR International Trade Regulation

UniBE Contributor:

Cottier, Thomas, Sieber, Charlotte


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 340 Law




Palgrave Macmillan




Charlotte Sieber

Date Deposited:

23 Jul 2015 08:41

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:48




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