Freeman Cebu Business

Apt rules, investors’ perks to boost Philippine outsourcing

Ehda Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - If supported with right policies and attractive offers, the Philippines could take advantage of taking the spotlight in the regional outsourcing positioning in the ASEAN, an Indian outsourcing executive said.

"ASEAN integration could be the next big thing for the Philippines–in terms of regional power-play," said Jibin Arjunan, Wipro regional head for Asia Pacific and Japan.

In a briefing, Arjunan said that the Philippines should maximize its leverage in the outsourcing business, and the lower cost of living could attract both outsourcing companies here, as well as people from other ASEAN countries to consider working in the Philippines.

Currently, Arjunan said the regional big players in IT and outsourcing are Singapore and Malaysia. The Philippines, he said has huge potential to take the spotlight from these countries, bringing interest of good regional manpower to work here, if a good policy that favors manpower mobility is introduced.

According to Arjunan, ASEAN people like that from Thailand and Malaysia will be interested to work in the Philippines, and help to rescue the depleting good talent pool, if this angle of opportunity will be taken into serious consideration.

Wipro, an IT services company entered the Philippines through Cebu in 2008. While it is constantly looking at expanding its outsourcing investments in the Philippines, the Indian conglomerate is also looking at entering the PPP (public-private-partnership) type of investments in the country.

Meanwhile, Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) former president Karen Batungbacal earlier said that her company for instance QBE Insurance, is now curious as to what would ASEAN integration mean in terms of cross border talent mobility.

Batungbacal, who is also the executive general manager for QBE Group Shared Services, said that what the players are anticipating in the integrated region is, the ease of moving talent from one country to the other.

She said some outsourcing companies like QBE, is looking at translation service for contracts in different countries in the region, to be translated to English.

Currently though, she said the industry is still feeling the pulse of the newly integrated region, and how the outsourcing industry can capitalize and work on productively under the workers' regional movement regulation.

The Philippines has entered into a number of Regional Trade Agreements that have provided mechanisms for labor mobility. These are the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA); ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS); and ASEAN Agreement on the Movement of Natural Persons (MNP). These trade agreements allow facilitated movement of business visitors, investors, intra-corporate transferees, and contractual service suppliers.

These agreements also have brought about the setting-up of various mechanisms to facilitate labor mobility. For instance, the proposal in coming up with an ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework.

The ASEAN economies have agreed on the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework, or AQRF, as a common reference framework to enable comparisons of qualifications across the ASEAN. It enhances recognition of qualifications, supports life-long learning, and promotes credit transfer and learner/worker mobility. — (FREEMAN)

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