US-Iran tensions could affect Nepal’s remittances

  • January 6, 2020

After the US killed a senior Iranian military leader in Iraq, fear of war, as well as repercussions on energy prices, have gripped other nations.

Experts say that the US-Iran tensions could make a negative impact on Nepali economy, which hugely relies on remittances. Nepal is the most dependent on remittances among other South Asian countries with the $6.5 billion it earns annually from overseas workers coming mostly from the Gulf. Remittances are worth 31% of Nepal’s GDP, the highest proportion in the world – even higher than labor exporting countries like Kyrgyzstan and Haiti.

Although Iran does not have a significant number of Nepali population, the tensions with the United States will have an impact on the entire Middle East, especially on millions of Nepalis working there.

Moreover, experts say it will have a direct impact on Nepali economy. Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali and Labor Minister Rameshwar Ray Yadav discussed about the situation on Sunday.

According to the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bharat Raj Poudyal, Nepal Consulate in Teheran has been asked to look at potential danger areas and collect information about the situation of Nepali citizens so as to make necessary strategies.

Potential impact on Nepali Economy

A war of words is already ongoing between the leaders of the two countries and this has instilled a fear of an actual war among other countries. “As millions of Nepalis reside in the Middle East as well as the US, even the prolonged fear of war can affect Nepal’s economy,” said labor expert Ganesh Gurung.

He said, “Amid tensions between the US and Iran, the number Nepali people seeking employment in different Middle Eastern countries could significantly decrease. Moreover, even Nepal government cannot encourage its citizens to go to the Middle East where security is weak.”

Millions of Nepalis are employed in Middle Eastern countries including Saudi, Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, among others. In the event of a war, their lives may also be at risk and they will be forced to return to Nepal if the war goes on for too long. This will result in a negative impact on the remittance entering Nepal.

The United States urged its citizens to leave Iran immediately citing security concerns after Iranian General Qasim Sulaimani was killed in Baghdad on Friday.