Policies to attract nationals residing abroad
In 2013, IPEMED launched a study on the strategies and measures set up by different countries to maintain links with their diasporas and encourage them to allow their homelands to benefit from their skills and expertise. The study also aims to evaluate the impact of such measures.
The report’s objectives
The report reviews the public policies to attract migrants that have been in place since the 1990s in three South East Mediterranean Countries (e.g. Morocco, Algeria and Lebanon), and more particularly :
1. Presents the various legal and political measures to attract nationals living abroad.
2. Gives an idea of the context in which these measures were created.
3. Analyzes the measures’ impact on mobilizing the diaspora.
This report analyses the measures implemented by three States - Morocco, Algeria and Lebanon - in order to maintain a connection with their citizens living abroad. These measures come from one observation: emigration has an impact on countries of departure. It can have a positive effect thanks to funds and skills transfers. Besides, emigrants can act as a bridge between the country of departure and the country of arrival. The impact of emigration can be negative if the country of departure does not manage to maintain a connection with its citizens living abroad, to encourage funds transfers and to direct them towards productive sectors. This is why States increasingly implement measures aiming at optimising the benefits of emigration and minimising its costs.
Morocco, Lebanon and Algeria experimented various institutional measures. This report focuses on institutions specially dedicated to emigration. It traces their evolution, highlighting the difficulties they were confronted to. In the three studied cases, the actions of ministries dedicated to emigration were hindered by overlapping competencies, institutional competition and budgetary shortfall. These issues were more acute in the case of Lebanon.
The measures implemented have three main goals: reinforcing and strengthening economic bonds between emigrants and their country of origin, creating or maintaining cultural bonds and enabling the political representation of emigrants.
In order to reinforce and strengthen economic bonds, Morocco implements incentives specifically dedicated to emigrants. The Moroccan authorities implement measures to direct investors towards productive sectors (information campaigns, co-funding measures for emigrants’ investments in some sectors considered as productive, etc.). In Algeria and in Lebanon, even though the economic potential of emigrants’ funds transfers is praised, emigrants are granted no benefits. The authorities rely on emigrants’ patriotism to boost funds transfers and investments. In order to boost skills transfers, Lebanon, Morocco and Algeria implement measures inspired from UNDP’s Tokten programme aiming at making skilled migrants take part in projects launched by organisations of the country of origin.
In order to create and maintain cultural bonds with emigrants, Morocco and Algeria conduct a dynamic policy more specifically directed to emigrants' children. They encourage the return of migrants for the holidays (favouring the flows of summer visitors and organising summer camps and summer schools for emigrants). Morocco and Algeria have measures enabling emigrants’ children to get to know their parents’ language and culture in their country of residence (culture and language classes, activities organised by the Algerian cultural centre in Paris and the Moroccan cultural centre in Montreal, etc.). Apart from summer camps for emigrants’ children or days dedicated to emigration, Lebanon has implemented few measures to maintain cultural bonds with its emigrants. This deficit can be explained by the distance between Lebanon and their host countries, the scattered emigrated population, the instability of the Lebanese State and the fact that emigration goes way back.
In order for emigrants to be politically represented, Morocco, Algeria and Lebanon had to rethink the notions of nationality and citizenship. The three States allow dual nationality as well as transmission of citizenship by descent. In the case of Lebanon, only the father can transmit citizenship. All three countries granted the right to vote to emigrants. Since 1997, Algerians benefit from a specific representation in the parliament. In Morocco, MRE (Moroccans living abroad) can register in the electoral roll of their city of origin, however they can only vote by going to Morocco or by proxy. In Lebanon, since 2008, the law states that Lebanese emigrants can vote for their home constituencies from abroad. This law should apply at the 2014 legislative elections.
Even though emigration is historically and sociologically rooted in the three studied cases, Morocco, Algeria and Lebanon are facing different migratory situations. Lebanese emigration goes way back. It started in the mid-19th century, before the State frontiers were drawn and before the existence of the Lebanese citizenship. Algerian emigration became significant during the First World War. As for Moroccan emigration, it only increased in the 1960’s.
In order to implement their emigration policy, Morocco, Lebanon and Algeria experimented various institutional measures. In all three cases, the actions of ministries dedicated to emigration were hindered by overlapping competencies, institutional competition and budgetary issues. In Algeria and Lebanon, the experiment of autonomous ministries dedicated to the management of emigration was dropped.
Economics and development
As for maintaining economic bonds, Morocco, Algeria and Lebanon wish to benefit from emigrants’ funds and skills transfers.
Morocco presents the most developed policy regarding funds transfers, amounting to nearly 7% of its GDP. In order to boost funds transfers, Morocco implements incentives specifically directed towards emigrants while Algeria and Lebanon do no grant them any particular advantages. Morocco encourages transfers by appealing to the economic rationality of emigrants. Moroccan authorities implement co-funding measures such as “MDM invest” to direct investments towards productive sectors. They organise communication campaigns on investment opportunities in Morocco and support initiatives such as forums organised by the SMAP group to promote investments. In Algeria, where funds transfers only account for a tiny part of GDP, authorities implement mainly measures in order for these transfers to be made via official canals. These measures show mixed results, particularly because of the added value of the exchange rate on the black market (equivalent to nearly one and a half time the official rate during summer 2013). No measure encourages emigrants’ transfers and investments by granting them benefits. In Algeria, information campaigns on investment opportunities were initiated and then abandoned. In Lebanon, were funds transfers still account for 18% of GDP, the measures implemented to encourage transfers do not grant benefits for emigrants. Generally, the authorities rely on the patriotism of emigrants to boost transfers.
In order to boost skills transfers, Lebanon, Morocco and Algeria implement similar measures. They are all inspired from UNDP’s Tokten programme. These measures aim at making skilled migrants take part in projects launched by organisations of the country of origin. This contribution takes the form of expertise or consultancy mission. Tokten-Liban, Fincome in Morocco and the “portal of national skills abroad” in Algeria all rely on the creation of a database of high-skilled migrants. Apart from Morocco, which required a study on the Fincome programme in 2008-2009, there is no assessment of the measures taken on skills transfers.
Identity and culture
The three studied States are concerned about maintaining cultural and identity bonds with their citizens living abroad. In the case of Algeria and Morocco, making easier the return of migrants for the holidays enables to maintain bonds. Both States must face particularly important flows during the summer period and implement measures to make the journey easier and more pleasant. In this area, real improvement has been noted. In the case of Algeria, particularly high boat and plane ticket rates during the summer period, in spite of the proximity with the host country, remain a major obstacle to the coming of emigrants.
The three studied countries offer summer camps and summer universities dedicated to young emigrants in order for them to get to know their country of origin. Programmes include cultural activities and linguistic introductions.
Algeria and Morocco implement actions to promote cultures of origin in host countries. Algeria has a cultural centre in Paris and in 2012 Morocco opened a cultural centre in Montreal (Dar Al Maghrib). Morocco is willing to expand its network of cultural centres. Algeria entrusted the agency for cultural diffusion to maintain the cultural bond between Algeria and its citizens.
Morocco and Algeria offer language and culture classes in host countries.
Nationality and citizenship
Finally, States are trying to maintain political connections with their citizens living abroad. Algerian, Lebanese and Moroccan legislations enable citizens to keep their nationality, including if they acquire the nationality of their host country. In the three studied cases, they can transmit nationality to their children. In the case of Lebanon, only the father can transmit citizenship. This excludes de facto a certain number of emigrants’ children. In 2008, Lebanon announced the creation of “the emigrant card”, a measure aiming at making easier the circulation and investments of people of Lebanese origin who do not enjoy the Lebanese citizenship. This measure has not yet been implemented.
Morocco, Algeria and Lebanon acknowledge the citizenship of their citizens living abroad and assert that they want this citizenship to be actively put in practice. In the case of Algeria, emigrants can vote and even benefit from a specific representation within the parliament since 1997. In Morocco, MRE (Moroccans living abroad) can register in the electoral roll of a city where their spouse, their children or themselves own properties, or in the birth city of their father or grandfather. They can only vote by going to Morocco or by proxy. In Lebanon, the right to vote was granted to citizens living abroad in October 2008. The law states that Lebanese emigrants can vote for their city of origin from abroad. The enforcement of this law was postponed to 2013 June elections, themselves postponed to November 2014.
National communities living abroad increasingly attract attention internationally. States are more concerned by their diasporas than they used to. They wish to involve their citizens living abroad in the national political and economic life. They are becoming aware that diasporas can act as a bridge between the country of origin and the host country. All countries of departure have the same perception of emigration.
Institutional actors require a dialogue on maintaining political, cultural and economic bonds with emigrants, as shows the ministerial conference on national communities abroad held in Paris in June 2013. This dialogue should be encouraged, as well as the exchange of “good practices”. More coordination between institutional actors should also be encouraged, even though it is a real challenge since the very nature of emigration regards several ministries. This dialogue must involve the civil society, especially the representatives of migrants associations. Maintaining the bond between countries of departure and migrants firstly comes under the action of migrants.