Development seems inevitably accompanied by increasing mobility and migration. Migration is a key component of developing countries’ regional and global integration. Today, the benefits of migration are already being observed in the form of remittances. Migrants are now sending earnings back to their families in developing countries at levels above US$441billion, a figure three times the volume of official aid flows. These inflows of cash constitute more than10 percent of GDP in some 25 developing countries and lead to increased investments in health,education, and small businesses in various communities.
For a decade now, South-Eastern Asia has been on the move – and so have its people. Because of its unparalleled success, South-East Asia is noted for its focus on education, investment, agriculture and technology. Trade and capital flows are all recorded and reported in great detail. Recently, the headlines is interconnected with a different phenomenon: the movement of workers seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families due to the human face of globalization. The scale of global migration from rural to urban areas, and across national borders, is unprecedented in the 21st century South-Eastern Asia, and financial remittances is a focal point.
Financial inclusion encompasses access to and use of appropriate, affordable and accessible financial services. Increased access to the financial system contributes to poverty and inequality reduction and supports inclusive growth. With the number of international migrants expected to rise from 232 million to 300 million in the next 15 years, a global increase in the amount of money remitted is likely to follow suit, of which South-Eastern Asian Countries form a major pivot. These remittances can provide essential funding for communities and support their GDPs for growth and development in subsequent years should it be integrated into development finance of the various countries through relevant policies and measures of growth.
An estimation by World Bank shows that at a global level, remittances to developing countries in 2012 surpassed an estimated US$410 billion. In that same year, nearly 60 million migrant workers living outside their countries of origin sent home about US$260 billion to relatives living in countries of the Asia and Pacific region. In the aggregate, 63 per cent of all global remittances flow to Asia, with India, China and the Philippines (in order of magnitude) as the largest destination countries in the world. Furthermore, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia are also included in the top ten remittance-receiving countries
South-East Asia is probably the World’s most dynamic and diverse remittance market, with almost 13 million migrants living abroad. Remittance inflows from 2000 to 2012 significantly increased in every country in South-East Asia. The Philippines, the third largest remittance recipient in the world at US$24.3 billion and over 10 per cent of GDP, accounts for over half of all remittances to South-East Asia. Other major remittance recipients in the sub-region are Vietnam (US$ 9.1 billion), Indonesia (US$7.2 billion) and Thailand (US$ 4.1 billion). At the same time, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are now attracting significantly higher numbers of migrants to work in their expanding economies than they are sending abroad. These three countries alone now host almost 6 million migrant workers. This is more than double the number of their own citizens migrating abroad. Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam continue to send significantly more workers than they host in return due to the advantage it serves to their economic growth.
Perhaps, looking at the continuous flow of migrants from these regions to other part of the world and the influence of their remitted cash funds to the growth of their economies, it is imperative that policies are initiated and measures undertaken to firmly integrated remittance into the development finance of these countries for growth and financial sustainability.