Remittances to developing countries grew only marginally in 2015, as weak oil prices and other factors strained the earnings of migrants and their ability to send money home to their families, but Latin America and the Caribbean recorded the highest increase.

That’s according to the World Bank’s latest edition of the Migration and Development Brief, released on Wednesday.

Among geographical regions, Latin America and the Caribbean saw the most rapid growth rate in remittances in 2015, of 4.8 percent, due to the recovery in labour markets in the United States.

Growth is expected to continue in 2016, albeit at a slower pace, with remittances expected to reach US$69.3 billion this year, from US$66.7 billion last year.

Overall, the World Bank said, officially recorded remittances to developing countries amounted to US$431.6 billion in 2015, an increase of 0.4 percent over US$430 billion in 2014. The growth pace in 2015 was the slowest since the global financial crisis. Global remittances, which include those to high-income countries, contracted by 1.7 percent to US$581.6 billion in 2015, from US$592 billion in 2014.

The slowing in remittances growth, which began in 2012, was exacerbated last year by low oil prices.

India retained its top spot in 2015, attracting about US$69 billion in remittances, down from US$70 billion in 2014. Other large recipients in 2015 were China, with US$64 billion, the Philippines (US$28 billion), Mexico (US$25 billion), and Nigeria (US$21 billion).

Remittance flows are expected to recover this year, after a bottoming out in 2015, with growth driven by continued economic recovery in the United States and the Euro Area, and a stabilization of US dollar exchange rates of remittance-source countries.

The report highlighted the effects of major international banks closing correspondent banking accounts of money transfer operators (MTO) to limit exposure to money laundering and other financial crimes.

The World Bank said a survey it had conducted confirmed that account closures are widespread, with adverse impacts on remittance costs and flows.

Caribbean360