Remittances across the world could decline by $108.6 billion this year as job losses mount and employers trim payrolls amid a COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated economies, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank. Money sent to Asia, where about a third of migrant workers worldwide come from, could fall by $54.3 billion, or about a fifth of baseline remittances, the Manila-based lender said in the report released on Monday.
Remittances to Asia and the Pacific, which amounted to $315 billion in 2019, help fuel the consumption-led growth for some of the region's developing economies, including the Philippines. "The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to hit remittances hard in Asia and the Pacific," the ADB report said.
The countries facing "more severe" effects are those where the share of remittances to the gross domestic product and per capita remittances are high, such as Tonga, Samoa and other Pacific nations, it said. Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which send a large number of seasonal and long-term migrants mainly to Russia and Europe, will also be hard-hit, along with Nepal and the Philippines, the report said.
"The worst-case scenario assumes that the domestic outbreak control and resumption of economic activities take a year's time," it said. "Uncertainty looms about the timing of full recovery, even as lockdowns are lifted." Developing Asia, a group of 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, is forecast to clock up its weakest growth in nearly six decades this year, the lender said in its Asian Development Outlook report issued in June.
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