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Latin American Remittances


Published on

Sumeet H. Chugani and
Ricardo Ortiz, associate attorneys
at Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP:
"Remittances to Latin America
are rebounding after an 18-month
downturn. From 1998 to 2008, remittances
to the region increased an average
of 15 percent each year. Because remittances
continue to be an indispensable
lifeline for many throughout Latin
America and the Caribbean, their recent
decline (although modest) posed a significant
hardship to individuals and governments

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Latin American Remittances

  1. 1. June 3-16, 2010 BOARD OF ADVISORS FEATURED Q&A Luis Anavitarte Thomas J. VP & Research Mackell Jr. Are Remittances to Latin America Recovering After the Global Crisis? Director, Gartner Inc. Chairman, Mexican migrants living abroad Q more than 20 percent of the labor force. In United Benefits and Ernesto Armenteros Pension Services Inc. sent more money back home in the United States, the percent of people Vice President, April than they did in the same who were unable to remit the same Banco de Ahorro y Franco Moccia month a year earlier, the Bank of amount as in previous years has declined, Crédito Unión S.A. Independent Advisor Mexico said June 1. The year-on-year but 35 percent are still remitting less. The Edward L. increase was small, less than 1 percent, recovery is substantially important to Richard Child Monahan Jr. Founder, but it was the first annual increase in 17 thousands of households, 2 million of Strategy Advisor Mattrix Group months. The report also said remittances which received less in 2009. In order to Thomas Morante to Mexico from January through April ensure the return of remittances, immi- Jeanne Del Casino Partner, amounted to $6.6 billion, an almost 9 per- grants need to benefit from the economic VP & Regional Credit Holland & Knight, LLP cent decline from the same period in 2009. recovery and improve their current eco- Officer, Latin American Banks, Moody's Manuel Orozco Are remittance flows to Mexico and the nomic conditions with better jobs and Investors Service Director, Remittances rest of Latin America recovering? How earnings, while their relatives must maxi- & Development important are the flows to economic mize the benefits by improving the man- Michael Diaz Jr. Program, Inter- recovery in the region? What is needed for Continued on page 4 Partner, American Dialogue a sustained recovery in remittances? Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP Adalberto Palma- Ernesto Fernández Gomez Manuel Orozco, member of the Holmann Chairman of the Board, Ayucus Tom Haider Consultant Senior Partner, APERTURE S.C. Kai Schmitz Executive VP, Microfinance A Financial Services Advisor board and director of the remit- tances and development pro- gram at the Inter-American Dialogue: "There exists a slow recovery of remit- International Corp. tances to Latin America mostly reflected in Earl Jarrett Jan Smith that more people are sending money to General Manager, Former Managing their relatives with regular frequency. Most Jamaica National Building Society Director, remittance recipient countries have regis- RBS Selling Argentine Kroll, Inc. tered a recovery by the second quarter of Operation to Banco Comafi Roberto Teixeira 2010. However, the average amount sent da Costa has yet to return to 2008 levels ($270). Royal Bank of Scotland Group, led by Board Member, Immigrants continue to face various chal- CEO Stephen Hester, has agreed to sell SulAmérica S/A lenges dealing with the economic recovery. its Argentine unit to Banco Comafi, the Subscribers may pose questions to the In Spain, the severity of the crisis has British bank said June 14. See story on Board of Advisors for the Featured Q&A by affected the large majority of immigrants page 3. contacting Editor Gene Kuleta at: in sending the amounts they were used to File Photo: RBS. remitting, and unemployment has affected Inside This Issue FEATURED Q&A: Are Remittances to Latin Banco do Brasil Could Raise More RBS Agrees to Sell Argentine America Recovering After the Global Crisis?....1 Than $5 Billion in Share Offering.........................2 Operations to Banco Comafi ................................3 Santander Buying Out Mexican Unit MoneyGram Expands Central Standard Bank Denies It's in From Bank of America for $2.5 Bn ......................2 America Service with Citi .....................................2 Talks to Sell Argentine Unit ..................................3 Venezuelan Government Seizes Subscriber Notice: Remittances Scorecard Political and Economic News: Bank Tied to Opposition TV Station.....................2 for Latin America and the Caribbean ................3 Cuba, Guatemala and More ..............................4-5 Copyright © 2010, Inter-American Dialogue Page 1 of 6
  2. 2. Inter-American Dialogue’s Financial Services Advisor June 3-16, 2010 FINANCIAL SERVICES BRIEFS Financial Services News Banco do Brasil Could Raise More Than $5 Billion in Share Offering Santander Buying Out Mexican Unit bank's requirements for solvency, insuffi- State-owned Banco do Brasil said From Bank of America for $2.5 Bn cient provisions for loan losses and failure June 14 it will issue as many as to carry out a government-mandated cap- Spain's Banco Santander said June 9 that ital increase. Banco Federal President 356.85 million shares in an offering it is buying out Bank of America's 24.9 Nelson Mezerhane denied the charges on the São Paulo exchange, which percent stake in Santander's Mexican unit June 14 in an interview with Globovisión. could raise as much as 9.6 billion for $2.5 billion, giving the Spanish bank "It's false that they asked us for a capital reais ($5.3 billion) based on the June almost total ownership of the operation. increase of 1.2 billion bolivars and what 11 closing price, Dow Jones report- Bank of America, which is headquartered we did was only 10 percent," Mezerhane ed. The bank plans to issue 286 mil- in Charlotte, N.C., paid $1.6 billion for said, adding that the bank's seizure is an lion shares in a primary offering and the stake in 2003, Bloomberg News "arbitrary action against all Venezuelans, 70.8 million shares through a sec- reported. Santander said its acquisition of not just Banco Federal." The government ondary placement, although it could the remaining stake in the Mexican unit shuttered the bank at 3:30 p.m. local time offer more if there is sufficient will boost earnings per share by 1.3 per- and said a commission will take 60 days to demand. Shares are available for cent in the first year. decide whether to liquidate or "rehabili- reservation from June 21-29. Last month, Bank of tate" it. Bloomberg News reported that America, led by chief more than 200 clients swarmed one of MoneyGram Expands Central executive officer Banco Federal's branches in Caracas in a America Service with Citi Brian Moynihan, last-ditch effort to withdraw their funds. agreed to sell its stake U.S.-based money transfer company in Brazil's Itaú MoneyGram International on June Unibanco Holding, 9 announced an agreement to which the bank called Mezerhane said the government's expand its money transfer services Moynihan a "non-core" asset. to all Citi locations in Costa Rica, El Bank of America will takeover of the bank was the File Photo: Bank of Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and America. continue serving cus- price he paid for refusing to Nicaragua. Last year, Central tomers in Mexico by America received nearly $11.6 bil- the bank's existing operations, said close down Globovisión. lion in remittances, accounting for spokesman Jerry Dubrowski, Reuters about 17 percent of the region's reported. In December, Bank of America gross domestic product, according repaid $45 billion in U.S. government aid and is required to raise $3 billion in new Banking Superintendent Edgar to the Inter-American Development capital. "We're making progress to having Hernández said 96 percent of Banco Bank. the commitment satisfied by year-end," Federal's 273,000 depositors are covered Burroughs Payment Solutions Dubrowski told Bloomberg News. by the government's deposit insurance Opening New Office in São Paulo fund. The Venezuelan government has Venezuelan Government Seizes Bank seized 12 lenders since November over U.S.-based payments Burroughs Tied to Opposition TV Station charges of insolvency and corruption. Payment Systems announced June 8 Mezerhane said the government's it will open a new office in São The Venezuelan government on June 14 takeover of the bank was the price he paid Paulo that will serve as the center of took control of Banco Federal, a medi- for refusing to close down Globovisión, its Latin America operations. um-sized bank whose owner is also the where he is cofounder and a director. Last Burroughs, which provides pay- largest shareholder of opposition televi- week, the government of President Hugo ment-processing image technology sion station Globovisión, according to Chávez issued an arrest warrant for and cash-automation services, said it wire reports. Venezuelan Minister of Globovisión's president, Guillermo has developed new products specifi- Public Banks Humberto Ortega Díaz said Zuloaga, charging him with hoarding the "closed-door" intervention of Banco vehicles at one of his residences. Zuloaga cally for the Latin American market. Federal was due to the bank's failure to has refused to turn himself in, saying in a Earlier this year, private equity firm comply with regulations, state news serv- Globovisión interview that to do so Marlin Equity Partners acquired ice ABN reported. He added that inspec- would be "no favor to Globovisión, my payment technology assets from tions by the regulator, known as Sudeban, country or my family." U.S. State Unisys to form Burroughs Payment showed several irregularities at the bank, Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Systems. including failure to meet the central June 14 the United States is "seriously Copyright © 2010, Inter-American Dialogue Page 2 of 6
  3. 3. Inter-American Dialogue’s Financial Services Advisor June 3-16, 2010 concerned" about the arrest warrant for Zuloaga. "This is the latest example of the government of Venezuela's continuing assault on the freedom of the press," Subscriber Notice Crowley said. RBS Agrees to Sell Argentine Inter-American Dialogue Roundtable Discussion: Operations to Banco Comafi Remittances Scorecard for Latin America Britain's state-owned Royal Bank of and the Caribbean Scotland Group has agreed to sell its operations in Argentina to Banco Comafi, RBS said June 14. The cash trans- with action will not materially affect RBS and is scheduled to be completed in the first Manuel Orozco half of next year, RBS added. The sale fol- Director, Remittances and Development Program lows RBS' agreement to sell its business in Inter-American Dialogue Colombia to Bank of Nova Scotia in March. Also, RBS sold its offshore loan book covering assets in Argentina, and commentary by Venezuela and Chile. RBS has been work- ing to trim its balance sheet and scale Sergio Perez Ruiz back international operations, Bloomberg CEO, More Money Transfers News reported. RBS CEO Stephen Hester has been selling assets after his predeces- sor, Fred Goodwin, expanded the bank's Paul Dwyer presence into more than 50 countries, CEO, Viamericas Corp. making more than $100 billion in acqui- sitions. In 2008, RBS posted the largest Paloma Monroy loss in Britain's corporate history and is now scaling back its businesses in 36 Advisor to the World Bank's Remittance Pricing Database countries. In Latin America, RBS will continue operating in Brazil and Mexico. Friday, June 18 RBS, which is 83-percent owned by the 12:30 - 2 p.m. British government, also plans to sell Inter-American Dialogue Global Merchant Services, its credit card 1211 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 510 processing unit, in addition to its insur- Washington, D.C. ance operations and 318 branches in Britain. During the credit crisis, RBS RSVP to received 45.5 billion pounds ($U.S. 67 bil- lion) of taxpayer money. Please include your name and affiliation. Standard Bank Denies It's in Talks to Sell Argentine Unit South Africa-based Standard Bank on June 10 denied media reports that it is in Argentine business, but added that such its branch network in the South American talks to sell its Argentine unit. "We remain discussions were "in keeping with good country. South Africa's Financial Mail on firmly committed to our business in corporate governance," which required June 10 reported that Brazil's Itaú Argentina," Deputy Chief Executive Peter such offers to be properly considered. He Unibanco and Britain's HSBC have both Wharton-Hood said in a statement. said the bank's Argentine business expressed interest in acquiring Standard's "Rumors and false reports to the contrary remains profitable, sustainable and stable. Argentine unit. The article did not say are completely inaccurate and inappro- "Any interest shown by third parties in where it got the information. Standard priate." Wharton-Hood said the bank had the business is confirmation of our suc- Bank is Argentina's fourth-largest retail over the years "entertained approaches cess in Argentina," he said, adding that financial firm and South Africa's largest from a few interested parties" about its the bank remains committed to growing bank by assets and earnings. Copyright © 2010, Inter-American Dialogue Page 3 of 6
  4. 4. Inter-American Dialogue’s Financial Services Advisor June 3-16, 2010 Political News Featured Q&A Continued from page 1 agement and handling of this valuable infrastructure building. In El Salvador, U.S., Cuba Officials Plan Talks income." Guyana, Haiti and Honduras, for exam- This Week in Washington ple, remittances continue to be a funda- Sumeet H. Chugani and A mental source of stable income. For a Officials from the U.S. and Cuban gov- Ricardo Ortiz, associate attor- region which continues to lack access to ernments plan to meet Friday in neys at Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP: credit, remittance flows naturally impact Washington for migration talks, the first "Remittances to Latin America the livelihood, education, business and such meeting since one in Havana last are rebounding after an 18-month overall productivity of individuals who February, Agence France-Presse reported downturn. From 1998 to 2008, remit- June 13. The purpose of the meeting is for tances to the region increased an average U.S. officials to monitor Cuba's compli- of 15 percent each year. Because remit- ance with an agreement under which the United States issues 20,000 visas to tances continue to be an indispensable lifeline for many throughout Latin “ In Mexico, remittances are the Cubans each year, the Associated Press America and the Caribbean, their recent second leading source of income, reported. However, similar meetings have included discussions on more controver- decline (although modest) posed a sig- nificant hardship to individuals and gov- behind only oil exports. ” sial topics as well. In the last such meet- ernments alike. This was especially true — Sumeet H. Chugani & Ricardo Ortiz for those Latin American nations facing external financing gaps. In Mexico, remittances are the second leading are otherwise locked out of conventional source of income, behind only oil sources of capital gain. Certainly, tradi- exports. Indeed, Mexico is the largest tional investments in physical and U.S. officials have said there is recipient of remittances in the region. human capital, trade and foreign direct little hope for better relations Consequently, Mexico's drastic remit- investment must continue in order to tance drop of more than 16 percent, allow Latin America as a region to devel- with Havana as long as Alan down to $21.1 billion in 2009, continues op its infrastructure and expand its Gross remains jailed in Cuba. to have grave consequences for that economy. However, strategically harness- country's fight against poverty and its ing the contribution of remittances efforts at continued economic develop- through reliable transfers of funds will ment. Strong remittance flows through- play a necessary role in achieving Latin out Latin American are vital for both America's ultimate goal of becoming a ing, U.S. officials pressed Cuba to free current economic recovery and future significant force in the global economy. Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor whom Cuba Continued on page 6 has imprisoned on allegations of spying. Gross has been jailed in Cuba since December without being charged. In Guatemala's Institutions Riddled activity including drug trafficking, mur- February, U.S. officials also met with dis- With Corruption: Castresana ders, contraband, people trafficking and sidents. This week's talks will happen in [authorities] enable criminal activity by Washington, though the site has not yet Guatemala's government is riddled with guaranteeing impuni- been determined, Gloria Barbena, spokes- corruption, hindering efforts to fight ty," said Castresana. woman at the U.S. Interests Section in murderers, drug traffickers and other "The country's institu- Havana told the AP. Fidel Castro has criminals, the departing head of a United tions are infiltrated." harshly criticized U.S. President Barack Nations commission established to fight Castresana added that Obama over topics ranging from his work high-level corruption told reporters June public officials in sev- on climate change to U.S. support for 14, according to Reuters. Spanish judge eral government agen- Israel and the use of U.S. troops for earth- Carlos Castresana resigned in frustration cies are corrupt and quake relief in Haiti. The U.S. govern- June 7 as the U.N.'s International should be removed Castresana ment's maintaining of Cuba on a list of Commission Against Impunity in from office. "We have File Photo: state sponsors of terrorism in December Guatemala (CICIG). He said it was to get rid of the corrupt Guatemalan Gov't. particularly angered Cuba. Officials in the impossible for him to work with govern- public servants one by United States have said there is little hope ment counterparts who protect criminals. one. We have to get rid of people from the for warming relations between the two This week, he said corruption is attorney general's office, from the judici- governments as long as Gross remains in entrenched in the Central American ary, from the interior ministry, but this is jail. country's government. "There is criminal scarcely the tip of the iceberg." When he Copyright © 2010, Inter-American Dialogue Page 4 of 6
  5. 5. Inter-American Dialogue’s Financial Services Advisor June 3-16, 2010 resigned, Castresana also expressed frus- Economic News POLITICAL & ECONOMIC BRIEFS tration over the appointment of Conrado Reyes as attorney general. He accused Colombia's Santos Eyes Balanced Reyes of having ties to organized crime. Chávez Suspends Venezuela's Budget by '14: Economic Advisor Reyes denied the allegations, but the Electricity Rationing Juan Manuel Santos, the front-run- country's Constitutional Court removed ner ahead of Colombia's June 20 him from his post three days later. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on presidential election runoff, aims to June 10 suspended a national electricity balance the country's budget by Clinton: United States Will rationing plan, saying that heavy rains 2014 and achieve annual economic Continue Standing by Colombia have strengthened the electrical grid, growth of 6 percent within the first Bloomberg News reported. "I feel a great U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on spiritual relief because I suffered through two years of his term, Santos' eco- June 9 told Colombian President Álvaro these measures that we had to take," nomic advisor told Bloomberg News Uribe that the United States will continue Chávez said on state television. "This June 10. Santos' plans to increase supporting Colombia after it inaugurates shows our capacity to confront crisis after economic growth include a dou- a new president in August, the Associated crisis." In January, the government bling of government housing subsi- Press reported. "The United States has ordered a reduction of 20 percent in elec- dies for middle-class and poor resi- been proud to stand with Colombia and tricity usage and penalized those who did dents, higher infrastructure spend- we will continue to stand with you in the not comply. A drought had caused water ing and efforts to diversify the agri- future," Clinton said alongside Uribe at a levels at the Guri hydroelectric dam to fall cultural sector, said the advisor, Juan news conference in Bogotá. Clinton also within eight centimeters of a collapse. Carlos Echeverry. met with the two candidates vying to The dam supplies hydropower plants that replace Uribe, former defense Minister supply more than two-thirds of the coun- Slim, Gates Announce Juan Manuel Santos and former Bogotá try's electricity. The water levels are now $150 Mn for Health Initiative Mayor Antanas Mockus. Apparently higher due to the rainy season. The elec- Carlos Slim and Bill Gates, the referring to Venezuelan President Hugo tricity rationing harmed Venezuela's eco- Chávez, Clinton said, "But I want to nomic growth and lowered production of world's two richest men, together underscore for anyone who is listening or steel and aluminum, said Chávez. The with Spain on June 14 announced a watching that the United States will stay a country's economy contracted 5.8 percent donation of $150 million to fight strong partner with Colombia in meeting in the first quarter. The government will health problems including malaria, the security needs that Colombia faces." begin restoring electricity to Venezuela's dengue and malnutrition in Mexico On June 8, Clinton met with Ecuadorean largest steel mill, run by Siderurgica del and Central America, the Associated President Rafael Correa in Quito and Orinoco, as well as aluminum producers Press reported. Slim's and Gates' emerged saying the United States wants that are part of state-run Venezolana de foundations and the Spanish gov- better relations with the countries in the Guayana, said Venezuela's electricity ernment will each donate $50 mil- region, even ones like Ecuador that minister, Ali Rodríguez. lion to the 2015 Meso-American became harsh critics of the United States Health Initiative, a partnership during the administration of former U.S. Meirelles: Central Bank involving regional governments, pri- President George W. Bush, The New York Independence Aids Brazil's Economy Times reported. "I don't know any two vate foundations and bilateral countries that agree on everything," Making Brazil's central bank more inde- donors. Clinton said. Correa, who is aligned with pendent would help decrease uncertainty Peru's Exports Expected to Chávez, said he does not consider the in the South American country's econo- Grow 12 Percent This Year United States an adversary. Earlier in the my, central bank chief Henrique Meirelles week, Clinton attended the Organization said June 11 at a conference in São Paulo Peru's exports are forecast to grow of American States General Assembly sponsored by Bloomberg News. "For risk by 12 percent this year, according to meeting in Lima, where she called on premiums to continue falling in Brazil's the country's Export and Tourism OAS member states to readmit economy, it's important that there is Promotion Board, state-run Agencia Honduras, whose membership in the growing confidence over the institution- Andina reported June 13. The esti- organization was suspended last year alization of the stability of the central mate is pared back from a forecast after then-President Manuel Zelaya was bank as an independent regulating earlier this year of 16 percent deposed in a coup. At the close of the agency," the bank chief said, according to growth, said Juan Carlos Mathews, meeting, the OAS agreed to send a com- the news service. Meirelles said it is up to export director of the board, known mission to Honduras to evaluate the Brazil's lawmakers and president to political situation there and report back decide whether to formally make the as PromPeru. to the General Assembly by July 30. bank independent. Copyright © 2010, Inter-American Dialogue Page 5 of 6
  6. 6. Inter-American Dialogue’s Financial Services Advisor June 3-16, 2010 Featured Q&A Continued from page 4 The Inter-American Dialogue’s Financial Services Advisor With recent signs of growth in the U.S. such as in Mexico. However, remittances is published biweekly. Copyright © 2010 economy, remittance flows to Latin to other countries, such as Brazil and Erik Brand America should not only stabilize, but Paraguay, have continued to fall. General Manager, Publishing potentially surpass their previous levels." Although the amount of remittances has been sustained or is growing in some Gene Kuleta Maricruz Aparicio, head of Editor A cases, the volumes and average amounts savings and family remit- of remittances continue falling, especial- tances at BAC Honduras in ly from Europe. Remittances can be the Matthew Schewel Tegucigalpa: "The rate of principal driver of commerce and a main Reporter, Assistant Editor remittances to Mexico and the rest of economic support for the education of Latin America will continue with expec- the neediest sectors. They are important Inter-American Dialogue tations of very slow growth and recovery. not only for economic recovery, but also This is a good thing. However, this does Michael Shifter, President not mean remittances will reach the lev- Peter Hakim, President Emeritus els of past years, as this depends on fac- Katherine Anderson, V.P., Finance & Administration tors including the state of the labor mar- ket and the construction industry. It also Genaro Arriagada, Senior Fellow depends on immigration policies, which are becoming increasingly stricter, like “ [Remittances] are important Joan Caivano, Director, Special Projects not only for economic recovery, Dan Erikson, Senior Associate, US Policy the anti-immigrant law recently Paul Isbell, Visiting Senior Fellow approved in Arizona. Mexico is the most but also as the foundation for Claudio Loser, Senior Fellow affected by this particular law. Remittances are extremely important as future generations. ” Nora Lustig, Senior Fellow they strengthen the balance of payments — Sergio Perez Ruiz Manuel Orozco, Director, Remittances and GDP of receiving countries. and Development Program Similarly, they have a significant impact Tamara Ortega Goodspeed, Senior on domestic demand, which invigorates Associate, Education investment. The effects of the interna- Marifeli Pérez-Stable, Senior Fellow tional crisis have opened opportunities Jeffrey Puryear, Vice President, Social Policy for development, especially in migration as the foundation for future generations. Viron Vaky, Senior Fellow issues. They lead to instruments and The first thing needed for a recovery in development programs such as loyalty- remittances is that social safety nets in building mechanisms and strategic developed countries attend to the needs The Inter-American Dialogue's Financial alliances, which can help lead to a recov- of migrants and don't discriminate Services Advisor is published biweekly, with the exception of major holidays, from ery in remittances under models that are against them. Secondly, job creation will 1211 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 510 differentiated and focused on social pro- undoubtedly be the primary vehicle for Washington, DC 20036 grams of migration protection, innova- coming out of this crisis, which is affect- Phone: 202-822-9002 Fax: 202-822-9553 tion and education. Those programs ing markets that generate remittances. It have a commitment to develop invest- would also be good to identify new des- Subscription Inquiries are welcomed at ment opportunities, help alleviate pover- tinations where growth is leading to ty and improve health and security." demand for labor and to promote these regions as destinations for migrants." The opinions expressed by the members of the Board Sergio Perez Ruiz, CEO of A of Advisors and by guest commentators do not nec- More Money Transfers in essarily represent those of the publisher. The analysis is the sole view of each Advisor and does not neces- Montevideo, Uruguay: "The The Advisor welcomes reactions to the sarily represent the views of their respective employ- inflow of remittances to the Q&A above. Readers can write editor ers or firms. The information in this report has been region is at a plateau. Any country may Gene Kuleta at obtained from reliable sources, but neither its accu- experience some slight signs of recovery with comments. racy and completeness, nor the opinions based there- on, are guaranteed. If you have any questions relating to the contents of this publication, contact the edito- rial offices of the Inter-American Dialogue. Contents of this report may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted without prior written permission from the publisher. Copyright © 2010, Inter-American Dialogue Page 6 of 6