Taiwan is inviting more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to apply for a job there, citing benefits it has laid out for OFWs, as it urged the Philippines to sign a Free Trade Agreement that would help increase trade and investments between the two neighbors.
“OFWs contribute a lot to the Taiwanese economy and we hope that more OFWs can work in Taiwan,” Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) Ambassador to the Philippines Donald Lee said.
He said Taiwan “provides OFWs equal rights and the same treatment as a local Taiwanese employee receives, including medical insurance coverage.”
“We have also implemented a new direct hiring program which makes it easier for OFWs who want to work in Taiwan. They don’t need to go through manpower agencies and middlemen who sometimes take advantage of them and charge them higher fees. This way, more OFWs are encouraged to make a living in Taiwan, where equal opportunities abound for them,” he said.
It will be recalled that in June last year, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) held a direct hiring program in key cities in Taiwan with the support of Taiwan’s Council of Labor Affairs (CLA).
“MECO has been aggressively marketing the special hiring facility among Taiwanese employers and skilled workers. The facility, also known as ‘direct hiring’ and ‘name hiring,’ allows Taiwanese employers to recruit Filipino workers without going through manpower agencies and recruitment firms,” said Antonio Basilio, MECO resident representative and managing director.
There are currently about 100,000 OFWS in Taiwan, each earning around P25,000 per month. Lee said OFWs in Taiwan remit around US$600 million to the Philippines every year.
Many OFWs in Taiwan were laid off due to the global economic crisis last year. However, most of the OFWs in had been re-hired due to robust demand for workers in manufacturing, particularly in the electronics sector.
Lee also said the Philippines should consider signing an FTA with Taiwan, stressing the impact it will have if the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is signed between Taiwan and mainland China.
“The Philippines should seriously consider signing an FTA with Taiwan,” Lee said. “If the Philippines does not take swift action, Taiwan locators that should have settled in the Philippines would turn to mainland China due to the ECFA’s magnetized effect.”
“Worse, many OFWs in Taiwan will soon be out of jobs as Taiwan factories may move to mainland China after the implementation of the ECFA,” he added.
Lee said Taiwan had just concluded the first round of talks with China on the ECFA, which is expected to “boost the normalization of the cross-Strait economic trade ties that will allow Taiwan to fit in to the international trade arena.”
“If Taiwan and the Philippines will sign an FTA, we foresee great strides in the cooperation of trade and investment, agriculture, labor, etc. with more Filipino workers coming to Taiwan, and more Taiwan investments flowing to the Philippines as well. Above all, we want to protect the working opportunities of OFWs in Taiwan,” Lee said.
“We promise to do more to engage in cooperation with the Philippines, especially in humanitarian assistance,” he said.
Taiwan is the 18th largest trading economy and has the fourth largest foreign reserve in the world. It is a major investor in the Philippines as well as in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has an FTA with China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand, all of which were in effect since January 1, 2010. The Philippines is a member of the 10-nation regional bloc.
By MADEL R. SABATER – www.mb.com.ph