Poorer countries face a long haul to secure vaccine supplies and set their economies on the road to recovery. As discussions over debt relief and concessional finance drag on, there is one very simple thing richer countries can do to help them: keep welcoming migrants who send money home.
Remittances make up more than a quarter of GDP in some small economies. For low and middle-income countries — excepting China — they are now a more important source of funds than foreign direct investment and official aid combined, bolstering weak social security systems. And during the pandemic they have proved to be an economic lifeline.
Their resilience is a surprise. Last April, the World Bank forecast remittance flows to low and middle-income countries would plunge by a fifth in 2020. Last week, it concluded they were just 1.6 per cent lower than in 2019, at $540bn. Despite facing greater precarity, bigger health risks and a backlash in public opinion, migrants have contrived to send home almost as much as ever.