Immigration - Trade Relationship in ASEAN: What Does the Evidence Show?


  • Chanida Ekakkararungroj Ministry of Public Health
  • Sheue-Li Ong University of Malaya & University of Johannesburg
  • Evelyn S. Devadason University of Malaya



International migration, international trade, intra-industry trade, ASEAN


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region has become more integrated through trade and migration. Yet, public policies in ASEAN do not consider the interrelations between trade and immigration policies. Therefore, the paper employs a static panel gravity model for the 10 ASEAN countries over five-year intervals between 1990 and 2020 to identify the direct connections between migration and trade (exports, imports and intra-industry trade). The empirical results support a pro-import immigrant effect but not a pro-export immigrant effect. The negative effect of the stock of immigrants on the share of bilateral intra-industry trade implies that immigration better explains one-way trade or inter-industry trade. The limited presence of the immigrant-link effects reflects the large stock of unskilled ASEAN immigrants that reduces the possibilities of creating networks between the home and host countries. The significant immigration-import links, however, is sufficient to justify the importance for ASEAN to work towards connecting migration and trade policies.


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Author Biographies

Sheue-Li Ong, University of Malaya & University of Johannesburg

Faculty of Business & Economics, University of Malaya

School of Public Management, Governance & Public Policy, University of Johannesburg

Evelyn S. Devadason, University of Malaya

Faculty of Business & Economics, University of Malaya