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The Challenge of Reducing International Trade and Migration Barriers


  • Anderson, Kym
  • Winters, L. Alan


While barriers to trade in most goods and some services including capital flows have been reduced considerably over the past two decades, many remain. Such policies harm most the economies imposing them, but the worst of the merchandise barriers (in agriculture and textiles) are particularly harmful to the world’s poorest people, as are barriers to worker migration across borders. This paper focuses on how costly those anti-poor trade policies are, and examines possible strategies to reduce remaining distortions. Two opportunities in particular are addressed: completing the Doha Development Agenda process at the World Trade Organization (WTO), and freeing up the international movement of workers. A review of the economic benefits and adjustment costs associated with these opportunities provides the foundation to undertake benefit/cost analysis required to rank this set of opportunities against those aimed at addressing the world’s other key challenges as part of the Copenhagen Consensus project. The paper concludes with key caveats and suggests that taking up these opportunities could generate huge social benefit/cost ratios that are considerably higher than the direct economic ones quantified in this study, even without factoring in their contribution to alleviating several of the other challenges identified by that project, including malnutrition, disease, poor education and air pollution.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, Kym & Winters, L. Alan, 2008. "The Challenge of Reducing International Trade and Migration Barriers," CEPR Discussion Papers 6760, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6760

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    Cited by:

    1. Blanca Moreno-Dodson & Sanket Mohapatra & Dilip Ratha, 2012. "Migration, Taxation, and Inequality," World Bank Other Operational Studies 10038, The World Bank.
    2. Edwards, T. Huw, 2010. "Globalisation as a 'good times' phenomenon: A search-based explanation," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 4, pages 1-48.
    3. Jacques Poot & Anna Strutt, 2010. "International Trade Agreements and International Migration," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(12), pages 1923-1954, December.
    4. Ratha, Dilip & Mohapatra, Sanket & Scheja, Elina, 2011. "Impact of migration on economic and social development : a review of evidence and emerging issues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5558, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Doha Development Agenda; international migration; trade policy reform;

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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