Lowering remittance costs for migrant workers: How Australia and the G20 can lead the post 2015 Sustainable Economic Development Agenda

Nicholas attended the 2013 Y20 Summit in Saint Petersburg where he represented The University of Melbourne as Melbourne National Scholar. Nicholas is reading for a Bachelor of Arts (Literature and History), alongside an Advanced Diploma of Theology at the MCD University of Divinity. He is Founder and Editor-in-chief of a new quarterly intercollegiate foreign affairs magazine, The Melbourne Globalist, and Founder and President of 180 Degrees Consulting at The University of Melbourne. 

Abstract

The G20 is having an identity crisis with regards to its efforts on fighting extreme poverty, representing the developing world and Africa in particular, and in reaching the goals of economic growth and job creation as laid out by the Framework for Strong Sustainable and Balanced Growth (FSSBG) introduced at the Pittsburgh Summit in 2009. This paper therefore proposes that Australia, in assuming the presidency of the G20 in 2014, should seek to achieve tangible economic results by strongly advocating that the G20 develop a renewed international consensus regarding the lowering of international remittance costs for migrant workers in preparation for the 2015 post Millennium Development Goals agenda. Given that the G20 nations are responsible for half of all global remittance flows, and when considering the universal failure to meet the G8’s 2009 5x5 Objective to lower the Global Average of remittance transfer costs from 10 percent to 5 percent by 2015 with the Global Average currently at 9.05 percent, Australia and the G20 are in unique position to refocus this important development issue post 2014 and ultimately have a substantial impact on the lives of the world’s poorest. This would allow the G20 to return to a strong focus on economic growth, job creation, and market-based approaches to sustainable economic development. If successful, the G20 could then point to measurable, tangible and impactful improvements to the global economy. Rather than expanding the definition of what it could be doing as an institution beyond the province of global economic governance as some have called for, this paper urges the G20 and an Australian presidency in particular to focus upon what it must be doing to make global economic infrastructure more efficient and fair for the world’s poorest.

Recommendations:

  1. Given its 2011 Cannes commitment, the G20 must advocate for a renewed multilateral consensus and efforts to lower remittance costs on international monetary transactions below USD 500 in conjunction with the respective efforts of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations.

  2. The G20 must also commit to a perpetuation of the measures of the 5x5 Objective pledged at the 2009 G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy12 beyond the 2014 deadline to reduce average global costs to 5 percent in the interests of designing and leading the post 2015 Millennium Development Goals agenda.

  3. Refocus its mission and improve its efficacy by actively trimming its agenda to reflect a greater focus on economic growth and job creation, rather than actively expanding its agenda to include subordinate issues outside of this province, as mandated per the FSSBG.

  4. Not yield to pressure and international calls to expand the list of participating member countries, lest the G20 trade off effectiveness for inclusiveness.

  5. Instead, Australia, in assuming the Presidency of the G20 and remaining on the Troika until 2015, must encourage the G20 to address criticism about its representative status by adopting policies that are directly relevant and concerned with the non-participating member countries and the developing world.

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