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[Excerpt] Since the 1980s, the number of Asians migrating for employment has tripled to more than three million annually. This large flow of workers has enormous consequences for the migrants and their countries of origin and destination. Migrants achieve dramatic boosts in their incomes, and their home countries benefit from remittances, which amount to billions of dollars for the region as a whole, and in many countries dwarf official development assistance and foreign direct investment. At the same time, destination countries’ economies are boosted by the arrival of hardworking and flexible labour forces.

However, migration also has costs. Migrant workers can be exposed to exploitation and discrimination – especially the increasing numbers of women migrants who are vulnerable to labour trafficking. For source countries, the income from remittances has to be offset against the departure of many of their most energetic and skilled workers who could be contributing to national development.

How can the Asia-Pacific region maximize the benefits of labour migration and minimize the costs? The International Labour Organization (ILO), the only international body with a specific mandate for international labour migration, can assist countries in their efforts to create more orderly and equitable migration systems.

This booklet and the accompanying CDROM offer an introduction to the services that ILO can offer. We hope that they will be of use to government policy makers and also to our many partners among employers associations and trade unions in the region – indicating how better governance of labour migration can create benefits for all.


Copyright © International Labour Organization 2008