The Rome International Conference on remittances planned for 9 November 2009 at the foreign ministry in Rome is one of Italy’s tangible and immediate contributions to the “5x5” goal set at the L’Aquila G8 summit to halve the cost of remittances over the next 5 years.
Participation is expected by the representatives of the G8, Central Banks and the main countries concerned with remittances, including those with major corridors from Italy, and of international organisations. Also participating will be representatives of the main Money Transfer Operators and banks active in the remittance sector and other sector operators; representatives of other ministries, of the CNEL and trade unions; and finally, representatives of the Italian work group on remittances, consisting of foreign ministry officials, the Prime Ministers’ Office and Office of the G8 Sherpa, the Ministry of the Economy, the Bank of Italy, ABI and CeSPI.
Italy’s informative website on the cost of remittance transactions, produced by CeSPI and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and financed by the foreign ministry, will be presented during the conference; with it Italy joins Germany, the UK, France, Australia and New Zealand.
The “5x5” goal, as stated in Rome in June during the G8 Development Ministers Meeting, could be achieved through the commitment of all the parties involved, and places the G8 at the lead of a broader effort.
The World Bank announced in October that another 90 million persons would fall into extreme poverty by the end of 2010. National economic recovery packages have been accompanied by the refinancing of pre-existing instruments by international financial institutions, and by the launch of new initiatives and assistance approaches by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank aimed at helping middle- and low-income countries affected by the crisis. During the Istanbul Annual Meeting one month ago, President of the World Bank Zoellick stressed the importance of innovative instruments capable of increasing available resources, including remittances.
Italy’s efforts in the context of the G8 have foregrounded innovative development financing initiatives. The European Council of 29-30 October also welcomed innovative finance.
The Italian initiative sees immigrant remittances as a private and public sector resource that can play a major facilitating role. Migrants contribute significantly to the economic growth and development of their home countries in various ways, through the income they produce and send to their families as well as through productive initiatives in their own countries.
World Bank estimates (based on officially registered data) report that in 2008 the remittances of approximately 190 million migrants generated 444 billion USD, of which 338 billion was directed toward developing countries, maintaining the income of no less than 700 million persons. The economic and financial crisis has also impacted on remittances, which have, nevertheless, contracted less than other private money flows.
The “5x5” goal means halving the current average global cost of sending remittances within the next 5 years, and can generate a net 10-15 billion USD increase in the income of migrants and their families. As for Italy, on the basis of 2007 estimates, 10 developing countries have received 75% of migrant worker remittances from our country: China (27.9%), Romania (13.2%), Philippines (12%), Morocco (5.9%), Senegal (4.2%), Brazil (2.4%), Albania (2,4%), Bangladesh (2,4%), Peru (2,1%) and Ecuador (2,1%). According to the World Bank, total remittances originating in Italy in 2008 equalled 12.7 billion USD (a figure that includes remittances going toward developed countries).