October 3rd 2016
Often overlooked is Vietnam’s significant and growing volume of overseas remittances from Overseas Vietnamese and Vietnamese workers back to their families in Vietnam. In just 25 years this has grown from a mere US$ 120 million to over US$ 12 billion1 equal to 5.5% of GDP, more than the direct contribution from Travel and Tourism. It is widely estimated that there are more than 4 million overseas Vietnamese of which 2 million are in the USA.
This puts Vietnam 11th in the world for overseas remittances and 3 rd in Asia after China and Philippines. The figure of US$ 12 billion is also 4 times that of disbursed Overseas Development Assistance.
Ho Chi Minh City has been the main recipient of these remittances accounting for nearly 50% according to the State Bank of Vietnam and the USA and Europe are the main sources of remittances.
The majority of these remittances are used to support the living expenses of families, including education and healthcare and also for starting businesses or buying real estate.
Another staggering statistic is the amount of money held in foreign currency and gold, outside of the banking system, which was estimated at over US$ 60 billion three years ago, by Dominic Scriven MBE, founder and CEO of Dragon Capital. This compares to the country’s foreign exchange reserves of US$ 40 billion. As this money starts to emerge from “under the mattress” it is being invested in real estate, business start-ups and luxury goods again contributing to GDP growth.