Tajikistan tops global list of remittance dependence

By bne IntelliNews November 22, 2012

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Tajikistan tops the list of the world's most remittance-dependent countries, with payments from migrant workers in Russia and other countries accounting for almost half of the country's GDP.

In 2011, remittance payments amounted to 47% of Tajikistan's GDP, considerably higher than the next most dependent country - Liberia - where remittances made up 31% of GDP, according to a report from the World Bank.

Two other CIS countries - Kyrgyzstan and Moldova - are also in the top 10, with remittances making up 29% and 23% of GDP respectively. India tops the list in terms of the volume of payments, with Indian workers sending home an estimated $70bn in 2012.

Overall, global remittance payments are expected to increase by 6.5% in 2012, despite the international economic crisis, to reach a total of $406bn in 2012. Further growth is forecast in the next three years, with cash flows sent home by migrant workers set to grow by 7.9% in 2013, 10.1% in 2014 and 10.7% in 2015, to reach a total of $534bn, says the World Bank's November 2012 Migration and Development Brief.

Amalgamated remittance payments coming out of the European region are expected to fall by 0.9% to $41bn in 2012. However, flows leaving Russia are on the increase on the back of high oil prices in recent years, benefitting migrant workers from CIS countries including Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan. Countries in this region have seen remittance volumes rebound since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

"A striking contrast to weak remittance outflows from Western Europe has been flows from Russia, which has benefited from elevated oil prices in the last few years," says the report. High oil prices have also boosted employment and demand for migrant workers in the Gulf countries, another major destination of Central Asian migrants.

This has had a positive impact on economies in the CIS's energy importing countries, which according to the IMF are expected to achieve average GDP growth of 5% in 2012 and 5.8% in 2013, with an increase in remittances being a major contributor.

Meanwhile, Eastern European countries such as Serbia, Albania, Kosovo and Romania, which rely on remittance payments from Western Europe, have seen up to double-digit decline in remittance flows in 2012. The World Bank's research shows that migrant workers are laid off at a greater rate than local workers when unemployment increases, as has been seen in countries including France, Spain and the UK.

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