"Migration, Trade and Investment", in Women Shaping Global Economic Governance, Edited by Arancha Gonzalez

Tunisia - 9 July 2019

Trade topics: Trade and Development

Remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) reached $466 billion in 2017, an amount which is three times the size of official development and is larger than foreign direct investment (FDI) for all LMICs excluding China (World Bank 2018). In addition to sending money home, migrants also play a role in promoting trade and fostering investment between their country of origin and their host countries. Nonetheless, migrant transfers do not seem to be enough to bring a structural change to their economies of origin, as the remittances are mainly intended to improve the daily lives of stay-behind families. The positive effects of migrants on trade and investment could be more impactful if better organised. Lately, the idea has emerged from members of diasporas that transfers should also support the creation of firms or fund investment and trade in order to create more jobs. With this in mind, several initiatives and policies have been enacted by both sending and receiving countries, as well as diasporas themselves, to ensure migrants’ long-lasting impact on the development of their countries of origin. In this chapter, I review the various roles played by migrants as agents of trade, investment intermediaries, and direct investors, highlighting some policies and initiatives that have been implemented either by host countries, sending countries, or diaspora members to mobilise funds and to sustain trade and investment. I use a mix of evidence-based findings, reports, and interviews with private sector leaders, public sector leaders, and civil society leaders in Tunisia. As a Tunisian economist based in a country going through a transitional phase where its diaspora could play a major role, I put particular emphasis on describing initiatives taken to empower diaspora members as trade and investment agents who are able to transform the Tunisian economy structurally.