BPO firms to stay, says US envoy

Jul 01,2017
US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim stressed that US IT-BPO companies in the Philippines continue to enjoy good business in the country. This statement comes after worries that US outsourcing companies have deferred their investments here as they await clearer policies from US President Donald Trump. “We (in the Philippines) have a very young population, smart, very competent, and very hardworking. There’s also a very strong cultural affinity so I think BPO will continue to do very well,” said Kim, who was in Cebu yesterday for the general membership meeting of American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines- Cebu Chapter held at the Cebu City Marriott Hotel. It was the ambassador’s first visit in Cebu, who did not miss to point out the traffic congestion here in a jest. Earlier, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito Plaza was quoted in news reports saying that many US IT-BPO companies have deferred their investments in the country due to Trump’s undefined economic policies on outsourcing. However, the ambassador believes that much of the threats in the IT-BPO sector come in the form of automation which can replace humans in the workplace, leading to loss of jobs. This is affirmed in a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) which noted that majority or 89 percent of employees in the BPO are at “high risk” from robotic process automatioon. There are 1.3 million Filipinos employed in the IT-BPO sector, and over 100,000 of them are based in Cebu. The ambassador validated Filipinos as preferred workers for US IT-BPO operations given their competence and character. Moreover, Kim assured the business community here of the continued economic partnership between the US and the Philippines despite the setbacks encountered in 2016. “We want to assure you that the United States will continue to partner with the Philippines and look for ways to increase foreign investment, reduce trade barriers, and streamline business regulations,” he said. The US embassy in close partnership with AmCham are actively engaging with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Finance to assist US companies with VAT refund challenges, and are advocating for a streamlined refund process as well as for tax reform packages to ensure it will not unfairly burden the business community. Kim has also expressed his support to the Duterte administration’s 10-point economic agenda.

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