More than five million Vietnamese people do not live in Vietnam. They migrated to 100 nations around the globe, and include 500,000 Vietnamese guest workers in other countries. Together, at year’s end, they will have sent $11 billion in cash back to relatives in their native country. That includes nearly $5 billion sent to Ho Chi Minh City alone.
Most of the money comes from the West — especially Europe and the US, home to 1.5 million Vietnamese Americans, many of whom are affluent. The cash is transferred through banks, such as Dong A Money Transfer (that received $1.5 billion in 2013) and Sacomrex, which expects the total to be $1.7 billion, (15% more than it had expected).
World Bank says Vietnam is one of the top ten countries receiving remittances from overseas. Others include India ($71 billion), China ($60 billion), and the Philippines ($26 billion).
The cash remittances are a cultural statement about the intensity of Vietnamese family connections. The money significantly raises the standard of living of relatives in Vietnam. And it helps build Vietnam’s social infrastructure — such as access to education and health — family by family.
The $11 billion inflow represents nearly 8% of Vietnam’s GDP. It strengthens and widens the bridge between Vietnam and the US. It helps explain the warm reception that often surprises first-time American visitors to Vietnam.