Bangladesh Faces a Crisis in Remittances Amid COVID-19
The economic importance of the more than 10 million migrants from Bangladesh who sent close to $18 billion in 2019 cannot be overstated. International remittances normally represent around 7% of Bangladesh’s GDP. But the COVID-19 pandemic is having an acute effect on Bangladeshi migrants abroad, who are largely concentrated in countries with strict lockdown measures. Considering the large volume of Bangladeshi migrants in the Middle East, secondary economic impacts through depressed demand and falling oil prices will also likely add strain to the flow of remittances.
World Bank estimates have projected that total remittances by migrant workers from Bangladesh will fall to $14 billion for 2020 – around a 25% decrease from the previous year. Figures released by Bangladesh Bank show that year-on-year remittances for the month fell by 25%, indicating that the World Bank’s projection is, unfortunately, likely to hold true. The drop in these payments, which have traditionally averaged between $300 and $600 a month, will represent a significant loss to millions of household incomes in Bangladesh.
Photo courtesy of Ray Witlin.