The Professor of the Centre of Development Studies at Victoria University in Wellington, Vijay Naidu, says small Pacific countries would be delighted if New Zealand or Australia allowed in some workers on a temporary basis.
Labour mobility is a key plank of the Pacific Plan which regional leaders debate later this month.
The reaction from the potentially largest market has been frosty, with Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, dismissing it, saying Australian workers would oppose it.
But Professor Naidu says it would help ease the imbalances caused by the trade in goods - of which most flow from New Zealand and Australia.
He says it would also help prevent the distorting effect of the immigration points system, which can deprive the small countries of skilled workers and business people.
"You know if there was a device to also allow relatively unskilled people to come in, then this not only provides some opportunities for employment, broaden their horizons, go home with some savings and therefore contribute to the relative well being of island people and their security."
The Professor of the Centre of Development Studies at Victoria University in Wellington, Vijay Naidu.