The remittances from abroad that were sent to people in Serbia in the period from January to September this year are almost half a billion euro lower than in the same period of 2019.
According to the latest data collated by the National Bank of Serbia (NBS), the total amount of remittances from abroad in the said period was EUR 2.2 billion, or EUR 422.3 million less than in the same period last year.
“Lower remittance inflow is a consequence of the pandemic and its unfavourable impact on economies in countries where most of our diaspora lives. Remittances are lower not only in Serbia, but also globally,” the National Bank explained.
The NBS also points out that the impact of the pandemic on remittances is twofold. First, the decline in the gross domestic product in the countries from which remittances are sent affects the reduction in available funds that people can allocate and send to their homeland.
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In the first wave of the coronavirus contagion in March and April, about 400,000 people returned to Serbia, mainly from Western European countries. Many of them are still here, as the pandemic has not abated, and European countries have repeatedly applied various restrictions to prevent further spread of the virus.
However, most of the remittances in the first half of 2020 came from Germany, the European country where most Serbs live and work, a total of €377 million. €169 million came from Switzerland, €109 million from Austria, and €95 million came from the United States, where up to 650,000 Serbs live.
NBS notes that it has made improvements in the payment system in recent years, which has facilitated cross-border transfers and thus contributed to an increase in the share of remittances entering Serbia through formal channels, bank accounts and fast money transfer operators.
“This is especially important at a time when the movement of people in most parts of the world is very difficult, as it allows the inflow of remittances to continue regardless of the physical movement of the population,” the NBS adds.
According to the latest data, there are about 11 million Serbs living abroad. A lot of them live in other Balkan countries while as many as 650,000 live in the US.
When it comes to Europe, most of the Serbian diaspora lives in Germany (450,000), then Austria (300,000) and Switzerland (almost 200,000). Interestingly, 80,000 Serbs live in Great Britain, which is known for its strict procedures even when it comes to tourist visas. A significant number of Serbs also live in Asia and Oceania – 120,000 the vast majority of whom live in Australia.
This post is also available in: Italiano