APEC Labor Mobility Framework to Achieve Win-Win for Asia


Key insights

At the “Workshop on the Development of an APEC Labor Mobility Framework” in Nha Trang, Vietnam, Albert Park, Director of HKUST IEMS, addressed representatives from multilateral organizations and international leaders from the region recommending that both sending and receiving countries should reduce migration costs, information asymmetries and provide standard, minimum worker protections in order to promote greater labor mobility. Specifically, countries can improve qualifications recognition systems, standardize features of employment contracts, streamline visa procedures, relieve credit constraints to mobility, and reduce costs of sending remittances. 

Although governments worry that competition from foreign workers will negatively impact salaries of local workers, much of the costs of immigration are offset by the benefits of hiring foreign workers at lower wages, which can reduce costs and promote business expansion. For example, cheaper construction costs supports growth in the housing and transportation sectors leading to employment creation. Having domestic helpers increases the labor supply and incomes of local women. These benefits produce further spillover effects as hard-working immigrants contribute more tax revenue than the cost of public services or transfers they consume or receive therefore enabling greater public expenditures. Professor Park highlighted the following benefits of hiring foreign workers. 

Guest worker programs allow foreign workers to work in specific occupations that local workers are unwilling to undertake at low wages, maximizing the cost-saving benefits. Fixed term contracts for such workers avoid the potential public costs of supporting unemployed or retired immigrants.

Population aging puts great pressure on both governments and citizens to support more dependents, especially in emerging market countries with immature pension systems. An open immigration policy would add more working-age individuals to provide balance, keep overall fertility at replacement level and stabilize the age structure over time.

Prof Park’s attendance is part of a collaboration between APEC and the Aging Hub of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU)— on whose steering committee Prof Park serves. 


Albert Park, Director of HKUST IEMS, was a panel speaker at the "Workshop on the Development of an APEC Labour Mobility Framework" held February 18-19, 2017 in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

The goal of the workshop was to draw upon the wide range of expertise across the 21 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) member economies to discuss a draft APEC Labor Mobility Framework developed by APEC's Human Resources Development Working Group that can serve as a non-binding regional strategy on labor mobility. Given large inter-country wage gaps and rapid population aging in many APEC economies, there are great potential benefits from promoting greater international labor mobility.

Prof. Park's involvement in the workshop is part of collaboration between APEC and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), for which Prof. Park serves as a steering committee member APRU's Aging Hub.

Workshop on the Development of an APEC Labor Mobility Framework in Nha Trang, Viet Nam on February 18.
(L-R) Rafal Chomik (Senior Research Fellow, CEPAR, UNSW Sydney) Christina Schönleber (Deputy Director (APRU International Secretariat)), John Piggot (Scientia Professor, Director, CEPAR, UNSW Sydney and APRU Population Ageing Research Hub Chair) and Albert Park (Professor of Economics, HKUST and APRU Population Ageing Research Steering Group Member).

Find out more about the workshop and APRU's participation here.  

Balancing the Equation of Immigration

In this video, Professor Albert Park shares insight into the real effect of immigration on East Asian economies. Immigration has become a point of contention in the West, and the East is no different. However, public perceptions often overlook the solid benefits for economic growth. Immigration will become even more important as Asian economies start facing population decline. What are the benefits of immigration for East Asian economies? Can automation replace immigrant workers? And most important, what can policy makers do to promote greater labor mobility in the region?


The video is part of a comprehensive article on the topic "How Does Immigration Affect Global Business?" published by Global Network Perspective, an ideas-based magazine from Global Network for Advanced Management.

Related Content

[Bio]  Albert Park

[Thought Leadership Brief] Wage Discrimination in Urban China: How Hukou Status Affects Migrant Pay authored by Prof Xiaogang Wu

[Research Collaboration] Learn more about the Institute's collaboration with APRU

Top photo: Workers learn skills at a recruitment and training centre before going to work in Japan.

Photo by ILO in Asia and the Pacific / Flickr. © ILO/Nguyen Viet Thanh https://flic.kr/p/Pf8oet

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