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Borderlex panel @ WTO Public Forum: Climate migration and trade

How trade policy can make (climate) migration work 

When: Wednesday, 13 September 2023, 15:15-16:30 

Where: World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, Room A 

Borderlex will host a panel discussion at the upcoming WTO Public Forum this September.  

We will be joined by a diverse group of experts to present a much-needed panel on the interlinkages between trade, migration and climate change.  

Register no later than 17 August 2023 here to join us! Participation is free of charge.

Session description:  

Trade policy has not given migration the attention it deserves. Making migration inclusive will become a salient issue as climate change will turbo-charge current global migration trends.

Trade economics has treated migration and trade as interchangeable. But evidence demonstrates that migration and trade reinforce each other.  

Many host economies are making their best efforts to restrict migration at a time when their demographics and economic competitiveness call for the contrary.  

To maintain social cohesion and economic competitiveness, host countries must harness, actively manage and make migration inclusive. Ageing societies in Europe, North America and parts of Asia will require migration in order to keep their rank as exporting powerhouses. 

Trade policy has barely touched migration so far. WTO’s GATT and bilateral trade agreements only focus on ‘temporary’ movement of labour and never call it ‘migration’. ‘Mode 4’ is usually reserved for privileged professions. 

Migration restrictiveness is interfering with constructive trade negotiations and relationships. This is the case in the ongoing UK-Indian free trade agreement negotiations. The EU’s revised GSP regulation will likely condition unilateral trade preferences for developing countries on their taking migrants back. Calls in the WTO to give preferential treatment to LDCs Mode 4 have gone unheeded. 

This panel will: 

  • Explain current and future trends in global migration, including how climate change will affect the migration conversation 
  • Highlight economics latest research on the interlinkages between trade and migration 
  • Discuss how trade policy, competitiveness, migration and climate policies can work together 
  • Take stock of how trade policy deals with migration and make proposals on what it could do better – not least in light of the coming climate change upheaval 


  • Gaia Vince, Author, Nomad Century:How to survive the climate upheaval
  • Thomas Cottier, Senior Research Fellow, World Trade Institute, University of Bern
  • Anirudh Shingal, Associate Professor, SPJIMR, Mumbai & Senior Programme Associate, EUI, Florence
  • Marie McAuliffe, Head of Migration Research Division, International Organization for Migration
  • Matthias Krämer, Head of international economic policy, Bundesverband Deutscher Industrie

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