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Get ready for rough ride, senators warn OFWs

Turmoil in US, Europe to have ‘adverse effects’
By: - Reporter / @KatyYam
/ 09:21 PM August 10, 2011

Exporters and overseas Filipino workers must brace themselves for the adverse effects of the economic turmoil in Europe and the United States, senators warned Wednesday.

Remittances received by families of OFWs are likely to decrease, if not stop altogether, according to Senate ways and means chairman Ralph Recto.

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Senate finance chairman Franklin Drilon added that exporters should expect less US consumer demand, while Senate labor chairman Jinggoy Estrada asked the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to start thinking of alternative employment for returning OFWs.

“OFWs would save their earnings while abroad or worse, they can lose their jobs, so it is very possible that they would not be sending money back home. So the families that depend on them would also hold back on their consumption,” Recto said Wednesday at the Kapihan sa Senado.

This is because if the dollar weakens and there would be less pesos required for conversion, “the OFW families would get less for the dollar,” Drilon said in another news conference.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed that from January to May 2011, OFWs sent home $7.9 billion.

Drilon said the US credit downgrade “can be both a benefit and a disadvantage, depending on which sector you belong.”

“An importer, if the dollar weakens and the peso appreciates, would benefit. The exporter would have to tighten (his) belt, because the value of the export when converted to pesos would be less,” Drilon explained.

“Export-oriented companies would have to be very wary, at least in the short term when the demand for consumers goods in the US for example and probably in Europe would slacken in case businessmen (adopt) a wait-and-see attitude,” Drilon said.

Recto noted that the export sector employs 2 million Filipinos.

Estrada said the DoLE “should be ready to absorb the returning OFWs, not only from the US but from other host countries who also rely on the US as a major trading partner.”

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If the government must begin absorption, Estrada said it should consider “jobs that are long-term and permanent” instead of immediate and temporary.

Recto, however, added that the disturbance in the Western hemisphere can create opportunities for the Philippines.

The senator predicted that US demand for fuel would be lower because of lesser spending and consumption.

Recto said that slower or negative growth in the US, for example, should make the country shift its trading focus to Asia.

“Aside from forging a good economic relationship with China, we can also improve economic cooperation with neighbors like Japan, Korea and the rest of Southeast Asia,” Recto said.

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TAGS: economy, Europe, Export, International (Foreign) Trade, overseas Filipino workers, Remittances, US
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