A common trope in Europe is that the European Union, by means of exploitation and stiff tariffs, keeps the African economy down, thereby forcing economic migrants to leave home for Europe.

However, since 2001, the European Union has installed the Everything But Arms initiative, completely removing tariffs on anything for Least-Developed-Countries exporting to Europe.

Is there any evidence that this economic initiative has lead to a reduction of migrant numbers from these countries?

  • 7
    The question asked for "refugees" in the title, but the body of the question is only talking about economic migrants. There is an important difference between these groups. A refugee is a person fleeing from political persecution while an economic migrant looks for a better quality of life. The difference is relevant because different laws and regulations apply to them in their destination country. EU countries are legally (and morally) obligated to accept refugees, but not to accept economic immigrants. I edited the title and removed the "refugees" tag.
    – Philipp
    Aug 9 '18 at 8:36
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    @Philipp: The distinction is indeed important, but in practice, the EU accepts some economic migrants, at least temporarily independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/…
    – Fizz
    Aug 9 '18 at 8:42
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    @Fizz While it is true that some economic migrants claim to be refugees in order to circumvent the usual application process does not mean they are refugees. It also doesn't mean that every refugee is an economic migrant or that every economic migrant came to Europe by exploiting the asylum system. Trying to conflate all these groups into one is a common rhethoric tactic of the racists in Europe to discriminate all foreigners based on origin alone. So it is important to insist on the differences.
    – Philipp
    Aug 9 '18 at 8:47
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    @Cliff As I already explained, there are 3 groups of people moving to Europe: 1. genuine refugees fleeing from persecution, 2. economic immigrants fraudulently claiming to be refugees, 3. economic immigrants who go through the regular immigration process. People tend to make justified complaints about group 2, but then imply that the groups 1 and 3 do not exist which means all immigration needs to be opposed. But they do. That's why it is important to differentiate. The question is about economy, so it is by definition only about groups 2 and 3 (economic immigrants).
    – Philipp
    Aug 9 '18 at 10:51
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    This happens on both sides: others argue that group 2 does not exist (and call racist those who disagree). The conflation of terms happens on all sides of the political spectrum. In the end, it boils down to semantics. I'm fine with changing the word "refugee" to "migrant". However, your focus on and use of the term "racists" makes you appear biased. This should not be a platform for political activism, as a moderator once said.
    – Cliff
    Aug 9 '18 at 10:59

According to one paper EBA (unlike aid) probably had a negative effect on trade

The main results show a negative effect of the EBA regime on exports. Otherwise, the combined effect of the EBA and aid on exports is positive, supporting an EU development strategy that includes both sorts of assistance, aid and trade preferences.

Another paper says

effects [of EBA] in terms of trade flows have been modest

And a 3rd paper...

Overall the results suggest preferences have a very small impact on trade, and negligible or even negative when we consider the scope for trade diversification. Therefore, it appears that the GSP system has provided a small effect on increasing exports at the intensive margin, but no effect on export diversification.

I couldn't find any papers estimating the effect of EBA on emigration... but assuming the papers quoted above are correct, EBA itself couldn't have been good for diminishing economic migration, or the effect was fairly negligible.

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