Kristy Hsu, director of the Taiwan ASEAN Studies Center at the Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research (CHIER), said Filipinos now outnumber other foreign workers in Taiwan’s technology companies, with many employed in the largest companies.
AFP/File
Pinoy workers power Taiwan’s tech industry
Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) - April 28, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino workers continue to power Taiwan’s electronics and technology industry, a visiting expert from a Taiwan-based think tank said.

Kristy Hsu, director of the Taiwan ASEAN Studies Center at the Chung Hua Institution for Economic Research (CHIER), said Filipinos now outnumber other foreign workers in Taiwan’s technology companies, with many employed in the largest companies.

“We have 122,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan. If you look at the breakdown of sectors, you will find that Filipino workers have a unique presence in computer and electronics [technology]. More than 60 percent of foreign workers in electronic parts [assembly] are from the Philippines. Filipino workers make up a major workforce in [Taiwan’s] large companies,” she said during a recent public symposium jointly held by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Philippine APEC Study Center Network and CHIER.

Despite the country’s huge contribution to Taiwan’s labor force, Taiwanese investments to the Philippines remains low compared with other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, Hsu said.

She said this is largely due to the greater ease in doing business in less democratic governments.

“Unfortunately, only about three percent of our total investments goes to the Philippines. About one-third of our total investments goes to Vietnam. Why? [This is] because of the population and government.

Less democratic governments tend to be more efficient,” she said.

But with Taiwan’s Southbound Policy in full swing, Hsu expressed confidence that the economic ties between Taiwan and the Philippines will become stronger.

“In recent years, the bilateral relations [between the two countries] have moved toward a full-fledged partnership and friendship [by] entering into broader areas of cooperation such as trade, investment, education, labor, and human resources, including tourism, and [now] smart agriculture or aqua-agriculture,” she said.

She also noted that the Philippines is currently Taiwan’s fourth largest partner in terms of trade volume, next to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) chairman and resident representative Angelito Banayo said they will assist Taiwanese companies and investors who have plans of setting up businesses in the Philippines.

“We want to position the Philippines as the gateway of Taiwan to markets identified in its new Southbound Policy and as a hub for its global market access strategies,” he said.

Banayo noted that in December 2017, MECO and the Taiwan Economic Cultural Office signed a new bilateral investment protection and promotion agreement, the first among ASEAN countries, to lay a strong foundation for investments coming from Taiwan.

Wistron, a computer manufacturing outfit of Acer Inc., Taiwan’s biggest computer firm, which left the Philippines for China in 2010, has decided to return and resume its major manufacturing operations in Subic last year. As a result, seven of the firm’s supply chain partners have followed suit and are now putting up shops in the country.

The New Kinpo Group, the maker of electronic products under the brands Toshiba, Daisun and Hewlett Packard, has also announced that it will establish its Southeast Asian hub in the Philippines.  Banayo shared that the firm will also expand its current workforce in the country, from the current 10,000 to 18,000 full-time employees within the next two years.

Banayo  said that while most of these electronics-based investments will have lower value effects on the country’s gross domestic product, they will help generate jobs, “which is of great socioeconomic value to a country like the Philippines.”

TAIWAN TECH INDUSTRY
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