India tops global remittances at $70 billion



India received foreign exchange remittances worth $70 billion in 2013 from its migratory workforce to retain the top spot in the world amid a broad slowdown caused by regulatory hindrances on both movement of people and capital.
China ($60 billion), the Philippines ($25 billion), Mexico ($22 billion), Nigeria ($21 billion), Egypt ($17 billion), Pakistan ($15 billion), Bangladesh ($14 billion), Vietnam ($11 billion) and Ukraine ($10 billion), rounded up the top 10 remittance recipient nations, according to a World Bank report released.
The report, an annual World Bank exercise that underscores the point that remittances are an important source of foreign exchange often surpassing earnings from major exports, said India’s $70 billion in remittance receipts in 2013 was “more than the $65 billion earned from the country’s flagship software services exports”.
Such trajectory was even greater in countries such as Nepal, where remittances are nearly double the country’s revenues from exports of goods and services, while in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, they are over 50 percent and 38 percent, respectively. In Uganda, remittances are double the country’s income from its main export of coffee.
In terms of remittances as a share of GDP, the top recipients were Tajikistan (52%), Kyrgyz Republic (31%), Nepal and Moldova (both 25%), Samoa and Lesotho (both 23%), Armenia and Haiti (both 21%), Liberia (20%) and Kosovo (17%).
Authors of the report said recipient countries could do much more to enhance remittances while obliquely criticizing the roadblocks in terms of high costs and increased restrictions on movement of people, including a surge in deportations.
“In addition to the large annual flows of remittances, migrants living in high income countries are estimated to hold savings in excess of $500 billion annually. These savings represent a huge pool of funds that developing countries can do much more to tap into,” said Dilip Ratha, manager of the migration and remittances team at the bank’s Development Prospects Group, and an authority on remittances.
The report also noted that Nigeria is readying a diaspora bond issue to mobilize diaspora savings and boost financing for development.