In the global context, where the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a major crisis affecting the most vulnerable sectors of society, its impact on family remittances and effects is a major issue for discussion and analysis.

Family remittances contribute to the economic growth and social development of recipient countries. In the region, they represent a high percentage of their gross domestic product and a poverty alleviation mechanism. In the past year, remittance revenues in Latin America and the Caribbean exceeded US$ 93 billion, and therefore countries that rely on remittance inflows are especially vulnerable to the consequences of the crisis caused by COVID-19.

The World Bank forecasts a 20% decrease in remittances in 2020, which will have a significant impact on the living conditions of millions of people around the world, and especially in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

According to ECLAC, the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to the biggest contraction in economic activity in the region's history. Their second Special Report on COVID-19 "Measuring the impact of COVID-19 with a view to reactivation” states that remittance flows to Latin America and the Caribbean could contract by 10% to 15% in 2020, and could take 4 to 8 years to return to the levels seen in 2019. In several countries in the region, these flows make a very significant contribution to economic activity: In Haiti, they accounted for more than 30% of GDP; in El Salvador and Honduras, they contributed around 20%, and in Jamaica, Guatemala and Nicaragua, over 10%. Between 80% and 90% of remittances are used to meet basic needs of the recipient households (food, health and housing). The contraction will therefore have a major impact on consumption and poverty.

In view of this fact, it is necessary to focus the discussion on the actions to be taken to mitigate these effects and on the possibility that the flow of remittances could continue during and after the pandemic. It should also be noted that migration is made up of a diverse human group, which includes professionals, technicians, entrepreneurs, workers in various fields, who contribute almost 10% of GDP in recipient countries. Thus, the integration of migrants into destination countries in a safe, orderly and regular manner could provide between US$800 billion and US$1 trillion to the global economy each year.

For example, the call for action led by Switzerland and the United Kingdom and supported by UNDP, the United Nations Capital Development Fund and other organizations, entitled “Remittances in Crisis: How to Keep Them Flowing”, proposes a series of actions to address the issue of post-pandemic remittances.

In this context, the Permanent Secretariat of SELA has considered it appropriate to conduct a series of webinars with the aim of addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on migration, the socio-economic implications for the region and how to face the future.

General Objectives
  1. Present an analysis for discussion of the issue of remittances in LAC region and recovery prospects in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Begin an exchange of ideas about the best practices in the different sectors of society that could point to the recovery of the pace of remittances in the region.
Central topic

The webinar will address the current trend in the pace of remittances during the pandemic and recovery prospects in 2021.


Opening session

11:00 – 11:10

Speech by Ambassador Javier Paulinich, Permanent Secretary of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) – (10 minutes)

  Moderator: Ambassador Oscar Hernández, Director of Relations for Integration and Cooperation
11: 10 – 12:10

Remarks by PhD Manuel Orozco – (1 hour)

Economic impact of remittances during the global pandemic 2.0

12:10 – 12:40 Questions – answers / Comments – 30 minutes

Director of Center for Migration and Economic Stabilization at the Creative Associates International. He has been director of the Migration, Remittances and Development Programme at the Inter-American Dialogue. He also serves as a senior fellow at Harvard University's Centre for International Development and as a senior adviser to the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Orozco has conducted extensive research, policy analysis and advocacy on issues related to global remittance flows, as well as migration and development worldwide. He is chair of Central America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute and senior researcher at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University. Orozco frequently testifies before Congress and has spoken to the United Nations. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Texas at Austin, a MA in public administration and Latin American studies, and a BA in international relations from the National University of Costa Rica.