Migrant workers and the remittances they send home play an important economic role in several ASEAN+3 member economies. The COVID-19 pandemic has directly affected migrant workers’ health via infections, and they have been hard hit by layoffs and forced repatriations, as well as fewer deployment opportunities. Consequently, where remittances have been a resilient form of external financing in the past, the unprecedented nature of the pandemic has led to a sharp drop in their receipt, and the outlook remains weak, likely until vaccines become widely available. The economic and social implications from the fall in remittances for receiving economies and for migrant workers could be substantial, and policymakers should thus take them into account when designing and continuing economic support policies.

Authors: Anne Oeking