Asian workers living in foreign lands sent home 260 billion dollars to their families last year. This movement of money to those at home is called a remittance.
Remittances are more than five times the value of development aid. But, experts say the process can be wasteful. They say reducing costs of remittances would help increase economic growth even more. Avi Arditti has details.
There are 60 million Asian migrant workers in the world. They send home more money than migrants from Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe combined.
More than 60 percent of the world's 410 billion dollars in remittances last year were sent to Asia.
A United Nations report says the money migrants send does more to reduce Asian poverty than the total amount of international development aid. But it says the process of moving the money from country to country costs about nine percent, on average.
Kevin Cleaver is the Associate Vice President at the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development. He says more money could be freed up for direct investment if costs were reduced.
"260 billion dollars in a single year of remittances to Asia. If only 10 percent of that was used for investment purposes, and half of that 10 percent in rural areas, the half of 10 percent is about 13 billion dollars. That's more money than all of the official development assistance in 2012 for agriculture."
Kevin Cleaver says too many governments in Asia permit little competition for money transfer services. He says the lack of competition can lead to high prices.
Remittance costs in some Central Asian countries are below the worldwide average of seven percent. But people in some nations in East Asia and the western Pacific pay ten percent or more. The UN report says more financial services should be offered in addition to remittances.
The report is the work of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank. Massimo Cirasino is manager of financial infrastructure and remittances at the World Bank. He says many migrant workers and their families do not have bank accounts. He says only about 25 percent of remitted earnings are saved or invested.
"They just get exposed to the financial sector when they receive money. And, typically, it is cash then and spent in cash. So, if we could leverage on those services to increment the number of financial services that are offered to these communities, be it savings opportunities, credit or micro-credit, or micro-insurance, I think this is an important agenda."
Mr. Cirasino says migrant workers are often undocumented. He says they need education and other help to avoid being used unfairly. I'm Avi Arditti.
1.remittance n. 汇款；汇寄之款；汇款额
Remittance was made through a bank.
2.free up 空出来
That allowed domestic banks to sweep in and capture newly freed - up business.
3.remit vi. 汇款；缓和
I hope you'll remit me the money in time.
4.undocumented adj. 无事实证明的；无正式文件的
The place is rife with smugglers, dealers, undocumented immigrants, and slaves.