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FranceThe Measurement of Workers’ Remittances in the Balance of Payments Dominique Nivat Balance of Payments Directorate Banque de France February 2005
The Reporting System • A definition broadly in line with the IMF BoP Manual • The transactions are captured through payments reports transmitted by banks and other reporting entities (of which La Poste)
The Reporting System • La Poste, which is the main source for recorded flows, provides us only with monthly global payments reports for post office money orders • The geographical breakdown of postal payments reports is made on the basis of other remittances reported by banks
A probable underestimation of Workers’ remittances • A part, which could be large, of private international transfers (shipment of goods, circulation of bank notes, informal money transfers) is not recorded in the balance of payments • In the case of France, this is reinforced by the weakness of the banking sector in Sub-Saharan African countries, from where come many migrant workers living in France
The implementation of a banks’ exemption reporting threshold • From January 2002, there is no more reporting by the banks of all individual payments – of which workers’ remittances – below the threshold of € 12,500 • Up to now, we do not make specific estimations to offset the non recording of flows below the threshold
Consequences for the measurement of flows • The minimum threshold has little impact on measurement for transfers towards two of the foremost destination countries, Morocco and Portugal, due to the use of specialised banking networks for most private international transfers, which are aggregated and continue to be reported monthly to the Banque de France • But we lost a large part of information for workers’ remittances to most other countries and for workers’ remittances from abroad
(Euro millions) (*) Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia
Conclusion: what can we do to improve the quality of statistics? • Try to obtain better and more detailed reports from La Poste (with a new regulation?) • Increase our cooperation with French statistical administrations and, in a longer term, with statistical bodies in some foreign workers’ countries of origin
Conclusion: what can we do to improve the quality of statistics? We are a little bit sceptical about the possibility of estimating workers’ remittances sent abroad on the basis of survey by the foreign-born population for, at least, two reasons: • The population of illegal workers and their reluctance to answer to surveyors • The different propensity of migrant workers to remit, which depends not only on their income or on the length of residency in the host country, but reflects also historic and cultural patterns from the countries of origin