OFW remittances hit all-time high in 2023

Personal remittances from Filipinos abroad reached an all-time high last year on the back of the increased deployment of overseas workers, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Thursday.

Data from the BSP showed that personal remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amounted to USD37.2 billion, up by 3 percent from the USD36.1 billion in 2022.

“The robust inward remittances reflected the rise in the deployment of OFWs due to the continuous increase in demand for foreign workers in host countries,” the BSP said.

The BSP said the full-year 2023 remittances accounted for about 8.5 percent and 7.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and gross national income, respectively.

Cash remittances coursed through banks reached USD33.5 billion last year, higher by 2.9 percent from the USD32.5 billion in 2022.

“The growth in cash remittances from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) contributed mainly to the increase in remittances in 2023,” the central bank said.

The central bank added the US had the highest share of overall remittances during the period, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation chief economist Michael Ricafort said Philippine remittances from overseas workers have consistently been the fourth largest in the world after India, Mexico and China.

He said this is a “sign of resilience and has always been a major growth driver for the Philippine economy for many years.”

“It is important to note that OFW remittances and conversion to pesos seasonally increased in the fourth quarter especially, during the Christmas holiday season towards the end of the year, especially within a week before Christmas to finance the surge, if not the peak, in holiday-related spending, a consistent pattern seen for many years and could seasonally support the peso exchange rate as well,” he added.

Ricafort said that in the coming months, the modest growth in OFW remittances could still continue as OFW dependents still need to cope with higher prices that would require sending more remittances.

He added a seasonal increase in OFW remittances will be seen around July to August due to the changes in the start of the school year.

Ricafort, however, said risks of an economic slowdown in the United States, softer economic growth in China and other European countries, and the Israel-Hamas conflict could slow down employment opportunities for some OFWs. (PNA)

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