Vietnam receives $10.6 bln in remittances, among top 10 nations

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Vietnam is expected to receive a record US$10.6 billion in overseas remittances in 2013, the ninth highest in the world this year, the World Bank said in a report.

The figure will mark a 6.5 percent increase from around $10 billion last year.

There are more than four million Vietnamese living and working abroad.

India will top the list with $71 billion, followed by China ($60 billion), the Philippines ($26 billion), and Mexico ($22 billion), according to the estimate released Thursday.

Remittances to the developing world are expected to grow by 6.3 percent this year to $414 billion and are projected to cross the half-trillion mark by 2016, it said.

"Remittances act as a major counter-balance when capital flows weaken as happened in the wake of the US Fed announcing its intention to reign in its liquidity injection program," Kaushik Basu, senior vice president and chief economist of the bank, said in the report.

"Also, when a nation's currency weakens, inward remittances rise and ... act as an automatic stabilizer."

But the high cost of sending money through official channels continues to be an obstacle to the utilization of remittances for development purposes, as people seek out informal channels as their preferred means for sending money home.

It costs $31.8 to remit $200 from Australia to Vietnam, while money transfer operators tend to charge only around $11.99, according to the report.

Remittances are one of the main sources of foreign currencies for Vietnam.

Since 1993 it has received a total of $70 billion in remittances, or twice the amount of foreign aid in the same period.

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