9 Nov 2010 13:58

Russia was top remittance sending country in 2009 - World Bank

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON. Nov 9 (Interfax) - Russia was a leading remittance sending country in 2009, accounting for $18.6 billion in remittances to other countries, the World Bank said in its Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011.

The leading remittance sending countries in 2009 were the U.S. with $48.3 billion, Saudi Arabia - $26 billion, Switzerland - $19.6 billion, Russia and Germany - $15.9 billion.

Luxembourg was the global leader in terms of remittances sent as a percentage of GDP - 20% - compared with 2% for Russia.

The publication forecasts that the leading recipient countries in 2010 will be India with $55 billion, China - $51 billion, Mexico - $22.6 billion, Philippines - $21.3 billion and France - $15.9 billion. Russia is forecast to receive $5.6 billion in remittances this year.

Tajikistan was the global leader in 2009 in terms of remittances received as a percentage of GDP - 35%, followed by Tonga and Lesotho, and then Moldova, which received remittances equal to 23% of GDP.

"Remittances to developing countries were a resilient source of external financing during the recent global financial crisis, with recorded flows expected to reach $325 billion by the end of this year, up from $307 billion in 2009, according to the World Bank's latest Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011. Worldwide, remittance flows are expected to reach $440 billion by the end of this year," the World Bank publication says.

"The World Bank estimates that, after recovering by the end of this year, recorded remittances to developing countries will rise further in 2011 and 2012, possibly exceeding $370 billion in two years' time," it says.

"The top remittance sending countries in 2009 were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Russia, and Germany. Worldwide, the top recipient countries in 2010 are India, China, Mexico, the Philippines, and France. As a share of GDP, however, remittances are more significant for smaller countries-more than 25 percent in some countries."

"While high-income countries remain the main source of remittances, migration between developing countries is larger than that from developing countries to high-income countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)."

"Regionally, there is significant variation across developing regions, with larger-than-expected falls in remittances to Europe and Central Asia[1], Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa regions in 2009. Flows to South Asia in 2009 grew more than expected, and those to East Asia and Pacific rose modestly."

"Remittances in 2008 and 2009 became even more of a lifeline to poor countries, given the massive decline in private capital flows sparked by the crisis," Dilip Ratha, manager of the migration and remittance unit at the World Bank, is quoted as saying. "However, high unemployment is prompting many migrant-receiving countries to tighten immigration quotas, which would probably slow the growth of remittance flows. Also uncertain currency movements can have unpredictable effects on remittance flows," Ratha said.

"In addition to crisis-related risks, there are major structural and regulatory changes in the global remittance market. Regulations to combat financial crime have become a roadblock to the adoption of new mobile money transfer technologies for cross-border remittances. "There is urgent need to reassess regulations for remittances through mobile phones and mitigate the operational risks," Ratha said.

"According to the Factbook 2011, the top migrant destination country is the United States, followed by Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. The top immigration countries relative to population are Qatar (87 percent), Monaco (72 percent), the United Arab Emirates (70 percent), Kuwait (69 percent), and Andorra (64 percent). Mexico-United States is expected to be the largest migration corridor in the world this year, followed by Russia-Ukraine, Ukraine-Russia, and Bangladesh-India."