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Keep Borders Open

Summary:
One of the best ways for advanced economies to help poorer countries is to discourage restrictions on trade and immigration and encourage capital flows to countries that need them the most. And they have good reason to do so, as such policies would benefit rich countries as well. NEW HAVEN – Until recently, we were regularly confronted with images of drowned migrants floating in the waters separating poorer countries from richer ones, from the Rio Grande to the Mediterranean. And although COVID-19 now dominates the news, the pandemic’s economic fallout is likely to exacerbate the global inequalities that drive migration. America’s Compromised State Saul Loeb/AFP

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One of the best ways for advanced economies to help poorer countries is to discourage restrictions on trade and immigration and encourage capital flows to countries that need them the most. And they have good reason to do so, as such policies would benefit rich countries as well.

NEW HAVEN – Until recently, we were regularly confronted with images of drowned migrants floating in the waters separating poorer countries from richer ones, from the Rio Grande to the Mediterranean. And although COVID-19 now dominates the news, the pandemic’s economic fallout is likely to exacerbate the global inequalities that drive migration.

Many developing countries have so far weathered the pandemic relatively well in public-health terms, but they cannot avoid its economic spillovers. More than ever, poorer countries need the support and cooperation of advanced economies. But the developed world, overwhelmed by its own problems, is turning inward.

Examples of the new policy environment abound. In the United States, the current administration recently suspended new H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers until the end of 2020, and, until forced to backtrack, was threatening to deport international students who do not attend in-person classes this autumn. Meanwhile, European Union policymakers boasted that the bloc’s ambitious COVID-19 stimulus package would be financed in line with a progressive European economic vision. But it includes carbon border taxes that will be anything but progressive, falling disproportionately on developing countries with lower environmental standards.

It is hard to imagine a more self-righteous justification of protectionism. Perhaps its only parallel is the US administration’s assertion that prioritizing “the dignity of work” lay behind the requirement in the new US-Mexico-Canada...

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