Remittances to Cambodia drop sharply due to COVID-19 hinh anh 1Cambodian workers returning from Thailand (Photo: Cambodian Immigration Department)

Phnom Penh (VNA) -
Cambodia is to join the ranks of declining overseas worker remittances this year after the World Bank projected global remittances will decline sharply by about 20 percent in 2020 because of the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent business shutdowns.

Global remittances to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are projected to fall by 19.7 percent to 445 billion USD, according to the World Bank.

This would reduce money sent back home by Cambodia's more than 1.2 million workers in countries such as Thailand, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong (China), Malaysia and Saudi Arabia substantially from the 2.8 billion USD remitted last year.

The RoK and Thailand are the largest source of remittances to Cambodia.

The report shows more than 60,000 migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos left Thailand amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, raising fears of cross‐border infections.

Ngeth Chou, a senior consultant for Emerging Markets Consulting, has estimated that Cambodia could lose about 90 million USD for six months of remittances from Thailand.

There are 50,000 Cambodian migrant workers who have returned from Thailand because of the pandemic and, on average, they send money back home about 300 USD a month, he said.

According to data from ACLEDA Bank Plc, money sent back home by only Cambodian workers from the RoK during the first quarter 2020 was 3.5 million USD with 1,373 transactions, a decrease from 6.2 million USD with 2,270 transactions in the same period last year.

Remittance flows to the East Asia and Pacific region grew by 2.6 percent to 147 billion USD in 2019, but are expected to decline by 13 percent in 2020./.