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Rising powers' venue-shopping on international mobility

Type of publication Not peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Other publication (non peer-review)
Publication date 2014
Author Jurje Flavia and Lavenex Sandra,
Project Understanding Power Transitions in the Global Economy. Regulatory Politics in Flux
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Other publication (non peer-review)

Book Rising powers' venue-shopping on international mobility
Publisher WTI Working Paper, WTO Bern

Open Access


Labour mobility has hitherto not been in the focus of international trade negotiations. The door to a trade-related mobility agenda was opened in 1995 with the inclusion of the so-called “mode 4” temporary mobility of natural persons as one out of four modes for trade services liberalization in the General Agreement on Trade in Services of the WTO (GATS). Whereas current GATS mode 4 commitments are quite limited, basically reflecting former trade hegemons’ lowest common denominator, recent initiatives and in particular regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) point at a gradual expansion of these clauses beyond the EU’s or US’ original intentions. As Indian diplomats and trade officials interviewed for this study put it, “GATS mode 4 is India’s strongest offensive interest in trade negotiations”. Correspondingly, India, supported by some other emerging economies, has increased pressure for more generous mode 4 liberalization in multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations. To the extent that these initiatives materialize, they are a salient example of the growing evolution of emerging economies from rule-takers to rule-makers in the regulation of international trade – and beyond. This evolution is particularly intriguing given that it takes place in a field that is excessively sensitive in established economies and faces significant obstacles to both the adoption of binding international commitments (GCIM 2005; Lahav and Lavenex 2012, Trachtman 2009) and liberalization more specifically. What drives emerging countries' agenda for trade related labour mobility, which strategies do these countries and, above all, Indian negotiators use in pushing this agenda, and how far do shifts in market power depend also on domestic politics and regulatory capacity for sustaining emerging powers' attempts to shape international trade rules are the guiding questions addressed in this paper.