Research Activities
Trajectories of International Labour Migration in Southeast Asia: From Private Initiatives to Economic Partnership Agreements
The Fourth Research Meeting of Group 3
■Speaker :Aysun Uyar (PD, Afrasian Centre), Ma. Reinaruth D. Carlos (Assoc. Ryukoku University), Kimiyo Yamakawa (RA, Afrasian Centre)
■Place :Research Room No.1, Shieikan, Fukakusa Campus, Ryukoku University
■Date :14:00-16:40, Sunday, 2 August, 2009
■Number :090802
【Summary of the Meeting】

Group 3 held its fourth meeting in August 2009 with a joint presentation entitled “Trajectories of International Labour Migration in Southeast Asia―From Private Initiatives to Economic Partnership Agreements.”

Southeast Asia is one of the most dynamic centers of labour migration. It has been pointed out that there is a growing trend of fostering economic partnership agreements (EPAs) instead of the control of ad hoc private dealers. The objective of this joint presentation was to investigate the evolving trajectory of international migration in Southeast Asia by analyzing the governance mechanisms of migration with different case studies.

First, Dr. Aysun Uyar of the Afrasian Centre presented a report titled “ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) and Governance of International Labour Migration in Southeast Asia.” With a special focus on AFTA as the governance mechanism of regional labour migration, she questioned whether AFTA can be the main mechanism for governing regional labour migration in Southeast Asia. A wide spectrum of mechanisms exists in Southeast Asia ranging from informal private initiatives to formal governmental-level frameworks. Among these, however, she posited that AFTA does not have the capacity, nor any mandate to be the governing body of any regional labour migration mechanism.

Next, Dr. Maria Reinaruth D. Carlos of Ryukoku University presented a report titled “Japan’s Acceptance of Foreign Careworkers within EPAs―The Cases of Indonesia and the Philippines.” As a case study of labour migration governance by Economic Partnership Agreements, Dr. Carlos investigated Japan’s EPAs with the Philippines and Indonesia. She pointed out that while such government-to-government agreements could be an ideal mechanism for managing bilateral labour flows, they are hard to implement on the ground. As an example, she noted that although the Japanese government promotes the ideal of “equal pay for equal work” at the negotiating table, in reality, care worker salaries have varied widely depending on the host institution. This discrepancy is due to a lack of consensus between Japanese ministries and a long-term vision of Japanese society. She concluded that the success of governance by EPA is heavily dependent upon the commitment of the host country’s government.

Finally, Ms. Kimiyo Yamakawa of the Afrasian Centre presented a report titled “The Professional Labour Mobility under India-Singapore CECA by Government-Private Partnership Initiative.” As an example of labour migration governance by a mixture of government and private sectors initiatives, she analysed the negotiation process of MRAs (mutual recognition agreements) in the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). She pointed out that governmental-private partnerships including the launch of MRAs, e.g. the Joint Ministerial Committee for Bilateral Cooperation and the India-Singapore Partnership Foundation were initiated against the backdrop of the increasing migration of Indian professionals to Singapore.

In the discussion, Professor Takeshi Hamashita of Ryukoku University suggested that the immigration policy of each of the host countries had a historical and social background, and that it was necessary to consider these and other factors in determining which make a significant difference in immigration policies. For example, the ambiguity of Japanese immigration policy stems partly from the historical problem of the legal status of Korean residents who immigrated to Japan before and during WW?. In the subsequent discussion, the need for a local level perspective was pointed out. Also, there was a discussing regarding the implications of the Bela Balassa’s economic integration theory for labour migration in Southeast Asia. Based on discussions at this meeting, this joint presentation was presented by an Afrasian Panel at ICAS6 and was well-received.