India tops in remittances from Diaspora

New Delhi: India is estimated to have got $58 billion in remittances, the highest for any country, from its Diaspora in 2011, followed closely by China at $57 billion, World Bank data showed on Thursday.

“There is increase in flow of remittances to India from all major sources. There is good increase from Gulf, East Asia and Pacific countries,” Dilip Ratha, manager of the World Bank’s migration and remittances unit, said.

In 2010, the remittance flow to India was $55 billion while China received $51 billion.

“The overall trend for India is very positive. Despite the crisis in major developed economies, remittance flow to India is increasing,” Ratha said.

Developing countries are estimated to get $351 billion of the total estimated remittance flow of $406 billion during the current calendar year. Remittance to developing countries has increased by 8 per cent in 2011.

For the first time since the global financial crisis, remittance flows to all six developing regions rose in 2011. Remittance to developing countries is likely to increase to $441 billion by 2014 from the estimated $351 billion this year.

“Despite the global economic crisis that has impacted private capital flows, remittance flows to developing countries have remained resilient, posting an estimated growth of 8 per cent in 2011,” Hans Timmer, director of the World Bank Development Prospects Group, said in a report.

Mexico with $24 billion is the third largest recipient of remittance in 2011, followed by Philippines $23 billion, Pakistan $12 billion, Bangladesh $12 billion, Nigeria $11 billion, Vietnam $9 billion and Egypt and Lebanon $8 billion each.

The World Bank expects continued growth in remittance flows going forward, by 7.3 per cent in 2012, 7.9 per cent in 2013 and 8.4 per cent in 2014.

High oil prices have helped provide a cushion for remittances to Central Asia from Russia and to south and east Asia from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Also, a depreciation of Indian currency and currencies of other large migrant-exporting countries (including Mexico and Bangladesh) created additional incentives for remittances as goods and services in these countries became cheaper in US dollar terms.

Remittance flows to four of the six World Bank-designated developing regions grew faster than expected – by 11 per cent to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 10.1 per cent to south Asia, 7.6 per cent to east Asia and Pacific, and 7.4 per cent to sub-Saharan Africa, despite the difficult economic conditions in Europe and other destinations of African migrants.

In contrast, growth in remittance flows to Latin America and the Caribbean, at 7 per cent, was lower than expected due to continuing weakness in the US economy, while the Middle East and North Africa, affected by civil conflict and unrest related to the ‘Arab Spring’, registered the slowest growth 2.6 per cent among developing regions.

Remittance costs have fallen steadily from 8.8 per cent in 2008 to 7.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2011 due to increasing competition in large volume remittance corridors such as Britain-Nigeria and UAE-India. However, remittance costs continue to remain high, especially in Africa and in small nations where remittances provide a life line to the poor.

“In addition to streamlining regulations governing remittance service providers, there is a pressing need to improve data on remittance market size at the national and bilateral corridor level,” said Ratha, who co-authored the World Bank’s report on ‘Migration and Development Brief.’