Coronavirus to have ‘minimal effect’ on OFW remittances in 2020

Mara Cepeda
Coronavirus to have ‘minimal effect’ on OFW remittances in 2020
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles says mainland China accounts for only 0.1% of total remittances from overseas Filipino workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government expects that the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak would only have a “minimal effect” on the total cash remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by the end of 2020.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a press conference on Monday, February 24, that the government foresees a decrease of 0.8 percentage points in total cash remittance growth in 2020 – from the initial projection of 3% to just 2.2% – as an effect of COVID-19, the disease caused by 2019-nCoV.

“Because of this COVID-19 epidemic, we have adjusted our growth projections to 2.2% and now expect $34.2 billion in remittances for 2020. Nevertheless, this shall still breach another record high in overseas Filipino remittances,” Nograles said.

He said the government had initially expected OFW remittances to reach as high as $34.5 billion by the end of this year. But Nograles said they had to adjust their projections due to the partial travel ban on China and its administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.

The government has already allowed some 25,000 Filipinos to return to their jobs or homes in Hong Kong and Macau after being stranded in the Philippines due to the travel ban.

Nograles said the existing travel restrictions, however, would not severely affect OFW remittances as mainland China accounts for only 0.1% of total OFW remittances, Hong Kong 2.7%, and Macau 0.4%.

“DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) also assures us that remittances from other source countries such as the US, UAE, and Saudi Arabia may help compensate for the possible slowdown in remittances coming from China, Macau, and Hong Kong. And we are encouraged by historical data that shows that Philippine remittances have been resilient even in the face of global downtrends,” added the Cabinet secretary.

In 2019, personal remittances from OFWs reached a record high of $33.5 billion, which is 3.9% higher than the $32.2 billion recorded in 2018.

As of Monday, the Philippines has recorded 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19, all of them Chinese. One died, while the other two recovered.

The Department of Health has probed 609 patients in the Philippines for possible infection. Of this number, 126 remain admitted in heath facilities nationwide, while 480 have been discharged.

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.