Monday 18 February 2019

Family ties: Immigrants will send almost €630bn home this year, a multiple of global aid spending

THE BIG PICTURE

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Migrant workers who have moved to the developed world for jobs will send almost half-a-trillion euro home to low- and middle-income nations this year, according to the World Bank.

Total global remittances are expected to grow by 3.7pc to $715bn (€627bn) in 2019.

The money paid by often low- and moderately-paid workers to families at home dwarves the value of global aid. Foreign aid from official donors totalled $146.6bn in 2017, according to the latest OECD data.

Once final figures have been determined, remittances to developing countries increased by 10.8pc to reach $528bn last year.

Total global remittances, including flows to high-income countries are projected to grow by 10.3pc to $689bn, according to the World Bank.

The moderation of growth in payments home reflects an expected easing in global growth.

While Ireland no longer benefits from emigrant remittances - a mainstay of the economy here in the mid-20th century - Irish business are involved.

The Denis O'Brien-owned Digicel has a Mobile Money service operating in a number of countries including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tonga.

Similarly, Mark Roden's Ding provides a phone app that allows users to send phone top-ups globally.

Launched in 2006, the company has deals with 500 different mobile phone operators in over 140 countries around the world.

Last year remittance flows rose in all regions. The biggest rises were in Europe and Central and South Asia, where payments were up 20pc and 13.5pc respectively.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean remittance flows were up almost 10pc, while the Middle East and North Africa experienced growth of 9pc.

The increased flow of money was driven by a stronger economy and jobs growth especially in the US, as well as a rebound in outward flows of money from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Russia. The GCC is made up of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, countries which are heavily dependent on workers from South Asia.

Among major remittance recipients, India retained its top spot, with remittances expected to total $80bn in 2018. It was followed by China ($67bn), Mexico and the Philippines ($34bn each).

All have high numbers of citizens working overseas.

"Remittances have a direct impact on alleviating poverty for many households, and the World Bank is well positioned to work with countries to facilitate remittance flows," Michal Rutkowski, a director at the bank, said.

Globally, the average cost of sending $200 is high at 6.9pc. The UN wants to cut the cost of migrant remittances to 3pc by 2030.

Irish Independent

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