New Delhi: India is estimated to have got USD 58 billion in remittances - the highest for any country - from its diaspora in 2011, followed closely by China at USD 57 billion, World Bank data showed 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, told IANS in a telephone interview from Geneva.
In 2010, the remittance flow to India was USD 55 billion while China received USD 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 USD 351 billion of the total estimated remittance flow of USD 406 billion during the current calendar year. Remittance to developing countries has increased by 8 percent in 2011.
For the first time since the global financial crisis, remittance flows to all six developing regions rose in 2011. Remittances to developing countries are likely to increase to USD 441 billion by 2014 from the estimated USD 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 percent in 2011," Hans Timmer, director of the World Bank Development Prospects Group, said in the report.
Mexico with USD 24 billion is the third largest recipient of remittance in 2011, followed by Philippines USD 23 billion, Pakistan USD 12 billion, Bangladesh USD 12 billion, Nigeria USD 11 billion, Vietnam USD 9 billion and Egypt and Lebanon USD 8 billion each.
The World Bank expects continued growth in remittance flows going forward, by 7.3 percent in 2012, 7.9 percent in 2013 and 8.4 percent 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 currencies of some large migrant-exporting countries (including Mexico, India 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 percent to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 10.1 percent to south Asia, 7.6 percent to east Asia and Pacific and 7.4 percent 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 percent, 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 percent among developing regions.
The Washington-headquartered World Bank expects continued growth in remittance flows in the coming years -- 7.3 percent in 2012, 7.9 percent in 2013 and 8.4 percent in 2014.
Remittance costs have fallen steadily from 8.8 percent in 2008 to 7.3 percent 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."