Governments overly restrict the flow of people across international frontiers. Increased mobility could induce excessively rapid equalizing tendencies (for example, labour shortages would be filled by unemployed manpower; high-wage societies would attract low-wage labour). However, the domestic pressures are such that governments are non-responsive to appeals to liberalize immigration laws or to allow numerous migrant or guest-labourers to enter, if only temporarily. Such restrictive policies accentuate inequalities, inducing migration of skilled individuals from places of greatest need to those of greatest opportunity. The countries that restrict movement the most are the least prepared to meet changing employment needs on a flexible basis.
The GATT Uruguay Round recognizes that the movement of "natural persons" to provide services into another country constitutes "trade" in services and that the conditions of access of such persons is a legitimate subject for negotiation of trade concessions through which developing countries could increase their participation in world service trade.
A major impediment to the realization of the competitive potential of developing countries in labour-intensive services has been the barriers to the temporary movement of persons.