Opening Session The policy needs for data on remittances Remittances are a major policy concern: Worldwide remittances are very large (up to 20% of some countries’ GDP) and therefore important for macroeconomic performance. Estimates of US$125bn annually were mentioned, possibly even higher– some argue they match Foreign Direct Investment and exceed Official Development Assistance to developing countries. This reflects increased international migration and globalization. The concern is not about regulation, but improving policy environment. There is also an interest in relation to trade policy (Mode 4 of the GATS). Three Aspects of Policy: Macroeconomic management • Flows are stable and help countries in crisis. • Trade policy focus, in relation to GATS. Development • Unique flows that benefit households, including the poor. • Developmental benefits can be enhanced with right environment. Enabling environment and financial deepening • Where available, formal mechanisms are preferred by senders. • Better data will support private sector investment in remittance and financial infrastructure. Policy Initiatives: Existing policy initiative for better statistics for GATS purposes. New policy initiative comes from Ministries of Finance: G7 (Sea Island Summit) and APEC. G7 has called for a statistical working group; IMF has not been formally consulted. World Bank plans to feature the issue in Global Economic Prospects. Policy tools include unilateral (improving domestic regulatory environment), bilateral (between partner countries) and multilateral (mainly through international organizations). Specific data requests: • Under the new initiative, focus on household to household transactions, less concern about ‘worker’ and ‘migrant’ concepts • Aggregate data is most important, followed by bilateral data. • There is also interest in details such as transfer channel (including informal) and frequency of flows as well as other details such as costs and regulatory conditions. • Improvements in data quality are important. • More extensive use of household survey data is also suggested. G7 set out draft terms of reference calling for: • Improved definitions of remittances; • Enhanced compilation guidance; and • Establishment of a bilateral data set. Present draft calls for a statistical working group to report by the northern hemisphere autumn, and for a conference at about the same time to disseminate findings. G7 ministries of finance emphasis cost-effective data sourcing methods. Resource costs of the project and need for support were mentioned. Once agreed, don’t move the “goalposts”!