Personal remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) amounted to US$2.652 billion in March 2020, lower by 5.2 percent than the US$2.796 billion recorded in March 2019. This brought the total remittances for the first quarter of 2020 to US$8.218 billion, 1.5 percent higher compared to the US$8.098 billion posted in the same period last year. Personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more declined to US$2.014 billion in March 2020, 6.7 percent lower than US$2.157 billion recorded in March 2019. Meanwhile, remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year rose by 2.7 percent to US$0.591 billion from US$0.575 billion from a year ago.
Similarly, OF cash remittances that are coursed through banks declined by 4.7 percent to US$2.397 billion in March 2020 from US$2.514 billion in March 2019. The decline in cash remittances in March was largely due to the lesser number of Filipinos deployed overseas in the first three months of 2020 relative to the comparable level last year. The countries that registered the declines in cash remittances in March were mostly from oil producing countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait) where demand for workers were affected by depressed oil price in the world market. Notwithstanding the decline in March, cash remittances for the first quarter of 2020 managed to post a modest increase of 1.4 percent to US$7.403 billion from the US$7.299 billion registered in the same period last year. The slight growth for the quarter was supported by remittances from both land-based (US$5.79 billion) and sea-based (US$1.613 billion) workers, which rose by 1.3 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.
By country source, the United States registered the highest share to overall remittances at 39 percent in March 2020. It was followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Canada, Hong Kong, and Korea.1 The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 79.1 percent of total cash remittances.
There are some limitations on the remittance data by source. A common practice of remittance centers in various cities abroad is to course remittances through correspondent banks, most of which are located in the U.S. Also remittances coursed through money couriers cannot be disaggregated by actual country source and are lodged under the country where the main offices are located, which, in many cases, is in the U.S. Therefore, the U.S. would appear to be the main source of OF remittances because banks attribute the origin of funds to the most immediate source. The countries are listed in order of their share of cash remittances, i.e., from highest to lowest.
Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)