U.S. threat to FiIipino call centers dismissed

By Chi Liquicia

A call centre in Manila, Philippines handling enquiries from American clients (REUTERS/Joseph Agcaoili)

A proposed U.S. law that discourages the outsourcing of jobs to overseas markets like the Philippines has got local businessmen  worried. And they have reason to fret. The Philippines, after all, is the biggest beneficiary of America’s call center business.

Under the U.S. Call Center and Consumer Protection Act, which President Barack Obama himself supports, businesses which farm out jobs abroad will be ineligible for loans or grants. It is still not clear how this will play out, but it has the potential to affect a sector that now directly employs over 600,000 Filipino workers and contributes $7.0 billion in revenues annually. And that’s not counting the secondary business the industry has spawned.

But the president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, has a different take on the matter. He says Obama’s initiative against outsourcing seems related to the upcoming elections, and may well fall by the wayside, reports the new social news network www.Rappler.com.

“This issue was brought up during the last elections in America and from that time, which was 4 years ago and now, the situation has not changed. Perhaps there isn’t that much of a need (to lobby) yet,” Aquino said in his remarks at the opening of yet another call center in the capital.

“We are hopeful that those who benefited from outsourcing can relay to the policy makers in the U.S. that outsourcing will be more helpful to their economy,” said an industry executive. A party-list lawmaker, meanwhile, downplayed the impact of the move. “What young workers need are permanent and regular employment, where they are not mere temporary voice agents of a Wall Street blue chip.”

More of the debate on the effect of the U.S. move is featured in the Rappler.com below.

Straight to the Source