Bangladesh's remittance earning from the United States of America showed a downtrend in the 2018-2019 financial year due mainly to an uncertainty over the current immigration policy in the USA, according to analysts.
"There is an uncertainty over the ensuing immigration policy in the US," said Zahid Hussain, former lead economist of the World Bank's Dhaka office.
He said Bangladeshi expatriates in the US are now living in a state of anxiety, which will continue until the next presidential election due in 2020.
The US is the third highest remittance-sending country for Bangladesh, but the inflow dropped 7.76 percent year-on-year to $1.84 billion in the last fiscal year, according to Bangladesh Bank statistics.
However, there was an increase in the amount of total remittance inflow to the country. In FY 2018-19, migrant workers sent home $16.41 billion, 8.75 percent up year-on-year, according to the central bank data.
"Even though the expatriate Bangladeshis are not facing any trouble finding jobs in the US, they are still reluctant to remit a large sum to their families in Bangladesh. This is because they think they might need money if the immigration policy affects their residency," Zahid observed.
"In times of such uncertainty, depositing money in their bank accounts brings them comfort," he added.
Meantime, bankers said the remittances slumped due to the exchange rate fluctuations.
Remittances from the US normally come through legal channels, but due to the large divergence between formal and informal rates in the foreign exchange market, there might have been a rising tendency to send money home through hundi, said Zaid Bakht, chairman of Agrani Bank Ltd.
The top five sources of remittances to Bangladesh are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the USA, Malaysia, and Kuwait.
Although the United States is among the top five and the United Kingdom among the top 10 sources of remittance, neither of them are among the top destinations of labour migrants specifically from Bangladesh.
However, the two countries host the largest Bangladeshi diaspora, said the Bangladesh annual migration report 2017 of the International Organisation for Migration.