Labour Mobility

On this page

    In February 2020, Forum Trade Ministers discussed the need for a broad and inclusive regional platform for decision making and endorsed labour mobility as a standing agenda item of the Forum Trade Officials Meeting (FTOM) and Forum Trade Ministers Meeting (FTMM). Forum Trade Ministers also directed the Forum Secretariat to undertake a Comprehensive Assessment on Regional and Sub-Regional Labour Mobility Arrangements in the Pacific (Comprehensive Assessment).

    In 2022, the Comprehensive Assessment was endorsed out-of-session by Forum Trade Officials. The Comprehensive Assessment made three recommendations:

    1. develop a regional platform for decision-making on labour mobility and policy support;

    2. develop a regional labour mobility strategy; and

    3. develop a regional information sharing network.

    In February 2023, Forum Leaders tasked the Secretariat to work with all participating countries to hold further dialogue to better understand the challenges and opportunities presented by labour mobility.

    In August 2023, Forum Economic Ministers acknowledged the positive impact of labour mobility in supporting the growth and development aspirations of Forum Island Countries. However, they also emphasised the need to focus on a “win-win” situation, noting that there had been challenges addressing issues related to workers’ welfare, loss of skilled workers and the socio-economic impact on families.

    In August 2023, Forum Women Leaders Meeting highlighted the social impacts of labour mobility for the Pacific and the need to address these impacts on families.

    In October 2023, Forum Trade Ministers underscored the socio-economic significance of labour mobility to the region, as an important source of revenue, knowledge transfer and employment opportunities, especially for Pacific youth. However, they also recognised the unintended consequences of labour mobility, including the breakdown of family structures, adjustment issues, risks to physical wellbeing and access to superannuation.

    In November 2023, Forum Leaders recalled their Special Leaders Retreat in February 2023, where they tasked the Secretariat to work with all participating countries to hold further dialogue to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to the Comprehensive Assessment, and noted the ongoing national consultations on the Comprehensive Assessment, including in relation to social and economic impact assessment of regional labour schemes. Forum Leaders also reaffirmed that the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting remained the principal Ministerial Meeting with oversight of this issue, and acknowledged the complementary role of Forum Economic Ministers, particularly as it relates to the socio-economic impact of labour mobility on Pacific economies.

    Forum Leaders noted the proposal to develop Pacific regional labour mobility principles, in collaboration with Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus) Implementation Unit (PPIU), and other relevant agencies to ensure synergies and avoid unnecessary duplication in the proposed development of the principles. Forum Leaders emphasised an inclusive approach that ensures Parties to the PACER Plus, as well as non-parties, have an equal decision-making role on regional labour mobility issues.