World Bank hails benefits of immigration

17th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (AFP) - The World Bank on Wednesday acclaimed the benefits of properly managed migration at a time when unrest in France has intensified debate about how best to assimilate troubled immigrant communities.

WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (AFP) - The World Bank on Wednesday acclaimed the benefits of properly managed migration at a time when unrest in France has intensified debate about how best to assimilate troubled immigrant communities.

In its annual Global Economic Prospects report, the Bank said the hundreds of millions of dollars that immigrants send home each year amount to double the amount of all government aid.

"With the number of migrants worldwide now reaching almost 200 million, their productivity and earnings are a powerful force for poverty reduction," World Bank chief economist François Bourguignon said.

"Remittances, in particular, are an important way out of extreme poverty for a large number of people," the French official said in the report.

"The challenge facing policymakers is to fully achieve the potential economic benefits of migration, while managing the associated social and political implications."

Those implications have been thrown into sharp relief by three weeks of rioting that has hit France and other parts of Europe.

Most of the youths carrying out the violence in France come from impoverished neighbourhoods with big communities of immigrants from the country's former colonial possessions in north and west Africa.

As the violence has subsided over the past week, president Jacques Chirac and his cabinet have sought to balance their tough policing orders and rhetoric to address the feelings of social and economic injustice underlying the unrest.

International bodies such as the World Bank have underlined that immigration is going to grow in importance as birthrates in rich countries decline and economic opportunities open up.

The Bank's report said that an increase in migrants that would raise the workforce in developed countries by three percent by 2025 could increase global real income by 0.6 percent, or US $356bn.

The relative gains are much higher for households in developing countries than in rich ones, rivalling potential gains from global reform of trade barriers, the report's authors said.

To maximise those gains, the report called on developing countries to seek agreements with migrants' countries of destination to improve the conditions through which they cross borders, seek employment and send money home.

Illegal immigration can be combatted through better management of migration, the report said, in contrast to many voices in developed countries who call for law-and-order crackdowns.

Temporary work visas for low-skilled migrants in industrial countries is one approach advocated by Uri Dadush, director of the World Bank's Development Prospects Group.

"This would contribute to significant reductions in poverty in migrant-sending countries, among the migrants themselves, their families and, as remittances increase, in the broader community," he said.

In the United States, president George W. Bush has proposed just such a "guest worker" programme to allow illegal aliens to get work visas for three years.

The plan enjoys strong support from the US business community, which is hungry for more construction workers and farm hands. But many in Bush's own Republican Party and beyond have expressed strong opposition.

The World Bank report underlined the financial sums that are at stake from well-managed migration.

Officially recorded remittances worldwide have exceeded US $232bn in 2005, it said. Of this, developing countries received US $167bn -- more than twice the level of development aid from all sources.

The report indicated that remittances sent through black-market or informal channels could add at least 50 percent to the official estimate, making remittances the largest source of external capital for many poor countries.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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