I’ve found a 2005 article by Josephn Stiglitz and Andrew Charlton that makes for interesting reading. They make the case for why the protectionist trade policies of rich countries are hurting the growth of the export industries of poor countries.

“The rich countries that make up the OECD give more than 200 billion pounds to their farmers each year, and maintain high tariffs to keep cheaper food out.”

and also:

“There is also much to gain from increasing the mobility of workers. Workers from poor countries should be allowed to carry out short-term projects in rich countries.

This would help the flexibility of the labour force, and also allow workers to send part of their pay home. The flow of money from migrant workers in rich coutnries is a crucial source of development finance, and is already greater than all the aid money that is give every year.”

Read more here.

Australia is planning to implement a migrant workers scheme to allow people from the Pacific to work in Australia’s agricultural sector. Singapore and Malaysia have a large number of migrant workers taking jobs as household staff. I can see that this could be a future growth industry in Australia as an attractive alternative to the rising costs of child care.

It’s interesting to see that there is a very large migrant worker community in Singapore. There are many Filipino shops set up to sell phone cards, products from home and Western Union money transfer services.

I think it would be a great thing for rich countries to open up their borders for Lao people to more easily obtain work there. Au pairs and masseuse staff are some industries that come to mind.