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Armenia Sees Rise In Remittances

YEREVAN -- The vital cash remittances sent home by thousands of Armenians working abroad have increased this year after a sharp drop in 2009, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Data released by the Central Bank of Armenia show a nearly 5 percent year-on-year increase in January-February 2010.

The total amount of such noncommercial cash transfers to Armenia through the banking system during that period was $119 million, up from $113.5 million reported in January-February 2009.

The figure is equivalent to 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Almost 76 percent of the cash transfers were from Russia, which is home to hundreds of thousands of Armenian migrant workers.

Remittances tumbled by over 31 percent to $1.12 billion last year as a result of the global financial crisis. That was one of the reasons why Armenia was hit particularly hard by the recession.

Its GDP contracted by as much as 14.4 percent in 2009 after a decade of robust growth.

Economic growth resumed in the first quarter of 2010 as economic conditions around the world, and in Russia in particular, began to improve.