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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”!