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'Accent' matters: Philippines acquiring 70% of India call centers

MANILA, Philippines — Most voice and call center businesses in India are transferring to the Philippines due to Filipino workers' more "neutral" English acccent, among other reasons, an Indian business group said.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said that India is losing 70 percent of all incremental domestic business process outsourcing (BPO) businesses, particularly call centers, estimated to be worth $30 billion in foreign exchange earnings.

"Philippines ... has become the top destination for Indian investors, thus the need to reduce costs and make operations leaner is increasingly becoming significant across the BPO industry,"  Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat said in a statement Sunday.

Citing Assocham's study, Rawat said that the Philippines has an advantage over India due to its large pool of "well-educated, English-speaking, talented and employable graduates."

Rawat said that only 10 percent of graduates in India are qualified to work in call centers and training could take a considerable amount of time. About 30 percent of graduates in the Philippines, on the other hand, are employable.

"Employees in Philippine call centers speak English fluently with a neutral accent which is what customers look for and that is something missing in Indian accents and that is a prime reason why BPO business is thriving in that country," Rawat explained.

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"Cultural proximity to the US together with availability of talented manpower are key reasons as to why BPO companies prefer expanding their operations in Philippines," he added.

The country's IT-BPO sector saw its revenues rise by 17 percent in 2013 as more companies chose to locate and expand their operations in the Philippines.

Related: IT-BPO revenues up 17% to $15.5B

The industry is estimated to hit revenues of up to $25 billion by 2016, and may account for approximately 10 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, employing about 4.5 million Filipinos.

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