PH among top recipients of remittances in 2017

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While remittance inflows improved in all regions, the largest inflows were from India with $69bn, followed by China ($64bn), the Philippines ($33bn), Mexico ($31bn), Nigeria ($22bn), and Egypt ($20bn) in 2017.

Remittances to India picked up sharply by 9.9%, reversing the previous year's dip, but were still short of $70.4 billion received in 2014.

The increase in remittances is greater than predicted by growth in Europe, Russia and the USA, allowing migrants and their families to send more money to India (69 billion USD), China (64 billion USD), the Philippines (33 billion USD), Mexico (31 billion USD), Nigeria (22 billion USD) and Egypt (20 billion USD).

In its latest Migration and Development Brief, the World Bank estimated that officially recorded remittances to low-and middle-income countries reached $466 billion in 2017. The rebound in remittances, when valued in U.S. dollars, was helped by higher oil prices and a strengthening of euro and rouble, it added.

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This stronger-than-expected growth was driven by faster economic expansion in Europe, Russia, and the United States, the report said. They are expected to increase by about four percent this year.

While the flows increased, the cost of sending money remained high.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most expensive place to send money to, where the average cost is 9.4%. Global remittances are expected to grow 4.6 per cent to Dollars 642 billion in 2018. However, the cost of transferring funds has also increased, the bank observed. The biggest bulk of that money, $20bn, came from Egyptians where the steep devaluation of the Egyptian pound against the United States dollar in November 2016 spurred Egyptians living overseas to pour back money into the country.

Remittances to South Asia grew a moderate 5.8 percent to $117 billion in 2017.

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The bank, however, urged countries to take steps to simplify the process to reduce the costs, including "introducing more efficient technology". These factors constrain the introduction of technologies, such as mobile apps and the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain in remittance services. In fact, India, the world's largest remittance recipient, had led the decline with remittance inflows amounting to $62.7 billion in 2016, a decrease of 8.9 per cent over $68.9 billion in 2015.

Pakistan remittance growth remained nearly flat during 2017 majorly due to notable decreases in inflows from Saudi Arabia (the biggest remittance source) by end of the year. "In many remittance-source countries, anti-immigration sentiments are on the rise".

In a special feature, the Brief notes that transit migrants-who only stay temporarily in a transit country-are usually not able to send money home. The region is host to several countries where remittances are a significant share of gross domestic product, including Liberia (27 per cent), The Gambia (21 per cent), and Comoros (21 per cent). "The average cost is higher than the Sustainable Development Goal target of 3 percent in all regions", Ratha added.

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