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Cablegate: Remittances Remain a Stable Source of Foreign

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #0635/01 0642059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 052059Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4228
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 1619
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4406
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2808
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR MADRID 2810
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1047
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0532
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2623

UNCLAS LIMA 000635

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN PE
SUBJECT: REMITTANCES REMAIN A STABLE SOURCE OF FOREIGN
INCOME, THOUGH BELOW REGIONAL AVERAGE

1. (U) SUMMARY: Remittances in Peru continue to demonstrate
upward growth though the rate of increase lags behind Latin
America as a region. Over the past 11 years, remittance
inflows into Peru increased nearly threefold from $599
million in 1995 to $1.796 billion in 2006 (about 2% of GDP).
The growth trend is to continue through 2008 when remittances
will reach an estimated $2.259 billion. Between 2000 and
2005, remittances inflows into Peru increased by 101 percent
whereas remittance inflows into Latin America increased by
136 percent. The difference can be attributed to Peru's
strong macroeconomic performance -- 22 quarters of sustained
growth. The United States is the leading source of
remittances, contributing 46 percent of remittances to Peru.
End Summary.

A CASH COW INDUSTRY
-------------------
2. (U) Remittances have provided the most stable inflow of
income into Peru over the past decade. The steady increase
in remittances stands in stark contrast to other forms of
capital inflows into Peru. According to a Central Bank of
Peru (Banco Central de Reserva del Peru, BCR) study, between
1995 and as projected through 2008, there was only one year,
2002, when remittances were not at about the same level or
higher over the previous year. By comparison, foreign direct
investment fluctuated due to changes in the investment
environment in Peru. As foreign direct investment dropped
from over $2 billion in 1995 to less than $0.6 billion in
2000 and then recovered to a slightly higher level at $2.5
billion, remittances have steadily increased as a share of
GDP. There was particularly sharp growth over the 2003-2006
period with annual increases eclipsing 23 percent. For 2006,
remittances contributed to 1.9 percent of gross domestic
product (GDP) in Peru. The BCR projects an increase to 2.1
percent of GDP in 2008.

3. (U) There are three channels for transmitting remittances.
The lead channel is Fund Transfer Enterprises (ETFs) which
accounts for 50 percent of Peru's remittance inflows or about
$720 million in 2005. An example of this type of enterprise
is Western Union. In Peru, two local companies -- Jet Peru
and Serviban -- dominate the business, both accounting for
roughly 25 percent of the market for a total share of 50
percent. Western Union has a market presence but is not a
major player. The second most popular channel is the formal
banking system which accounts for 28 percent of remittances
or, in 2005, $322 million. The remaining channel is termed
"other channels" and accounts for 22 percent of the total, or
$322 million. This last type is a popular method in Japan
for transmitting funds. Typical of this type of
organization are cooperatives which are consumer, business,
or even community based.

INFORMALITY POSES FORMAL ESTIMATION CHALLENGES
--------------------------------------------- -
4. (U) There are recipients of remittances who are outside of
the formal financial system and can receive remittances
through informal channels that are not readily tracked by
banking institutions. The informality issue is a technical
challenge to the formal estimation of remittances. Due to
informality, there are differences in the estimation of the
magnitude of this phenomenon. For instance, an Inter
American Development Bank (IDB) commissioned study estimated
2005 remittance inflows into Peru at $2.495 billion compared
to the BCR's estimate of $1.440 billion. The BCR staff
believes there are three weaknesses to the IDB study: (1)
the IDB classifies 41 percent of the inflows as entering Peru
through the informal channel while the BCR estimates these
inflows at only 10 percent of the total; (2) the lack of a
properly defined household sample receiving remittances; and
(3) the BCR staff argues that the huge variance of over $1
billion between the two estimates would be reflected in
permanent negative levels of Peru's balance of payments.
Regardless of the estimate, Post's analysis of the different
methodologies argues in favor of the BCR's method of
estimation.

WHO REMITS? U.S., SPAIN, JAPAN...
----------------------------------
5. (U) The United States is the source for the largest share
of Peruvian remittance inflows at an estimated 46 percent.
The next largest source of remittances is Spain, accounting
for 13 percent. Next is Japan at 11 percent and then Italy

at 9 percent. Within Latin America, the lead source for
remittances directed to Peru is Argentina with 5 percent.
Post developed an estimate of the origin of the remittances
as the BCR study stopped short of providing estimates from
all sources. The table below summarizes the remittance
inflows into Peru by both channel and country.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
Channels of Remittance Inflows into Peru by Country, 2005
--------------------------------------------- ------------
Country
Country ETFs Banks Other Total
--------------------------------------------- ------------
U.S. 25.9% 14.3% 5.8% 45.9%
Spain 7.0% 3.9% 1.6% 12.5%
Japan nil nil 11.2% 11.2%
Italy 5.1% 2.8% 1.1% 9.0%
Argentina 2.6% 1.4% 0.6% 4.6%
Chile 2.2% 1.2% 0.5% 3.9%
Ecuador 1.2% 0.7% 0.3% 2.1%
Germany 0.6% 0.3% 0.1% 1.1%
Others 5.5% 3.0% 1.2% 9.7%
--------------------------------------------- ------------
Channel
Total 50.0% 27.6% 22.4% 100.0%
--------------------------------------------- ------------
Dollars (MM) $720 $397 $322 $1.440
--------------------------------------------- ------------
Sources: BCR and Embassy Lima

6. (U) Remittances from countries in areas with potential
criminal or terrorist activities were on the level of less
than $1 million via ETFs (this is the only channel for which
data is available). In rank order, Paraguay had the highest
level in 2005 with $800,000 million transferred. Next was
Jordan, Kuwait, and Bahrain with $500,000 each followed by
Lebanon with $100,000 and then finally Iran and Iraq with
$2,000 each.

7. (SBU) Peru's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) reviews
remittances in cases of suspected money laundering and has
investigated at least one remittance case in relationship to
a suspected money laundering transaction. Although this case
illustrated the potential for returning laundered funds to
Peru via remittances, we are not aware of any major focus on
the use of remittances to launder money.

COMMENT
---------------
8. (U) Worldwide, the growth in remittances is a formidable
trend. Peru has demonstrated a steady and increasing
appetite for remittances with a rate of increase from 2000 to
2005 at an impressive 101 percent. Although this rate is
less than the Latin American average of 136 percent, it is
possible that Peru's strong macroeconomic performance since
2000 improved opportunities at home and its impact on
reducing poverty -- particularly among the middle to lower
echelon of the impoverished class -- could explain Peru's
"slower growth curve" for remittances as compared to Ltin
America as a whole.
STRUBLE

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