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June 02, 2007


Jon Limjap

It's an unemployment thing. If foreigners take up what meager number of jobs we have here, then we're roast. :p


Hi Jon -- Isn't that the same argument that is loudly proclaimed by anti-immigrant groups in other countries? Overall, if the world turns more protectionist about workers, the Philippines will be one of the biggest losers. In all these matters there has to be some give and take -- since the Philippines benefits so massively from the open job markets in other countries isn't it wrong that it should be so protectionist about its own markets?

In practical terms, I don't think repealing that section of the constitution would make much difference. Nurses earning $30,000 a year in the States are not going to start pouring in here to earn a fraction of that.

My view is that that section is there mainly to protect rich and powerful law and accountancy firms. If foreign firms were able to practice here, their cosy monopoly would end. However, when one looks at the wider picture, even in that case the result might be positive for Philippine business as a whole. Large corporations would then have a choice -- if the local firm they have always used is competitive, they will stick with it. On the other hand if a foreign firm offers better services the Philippine businesses will benefit.


Outside of Japan, what are the two strongest economies in Asia, delivering the best quality of life to their people (and, incidentally, to Philippine immigrant workers as well)? Hong Kong and Singapore. In the whole of Asia, what are the two economic systems that most enthusiastically welcome foreigners and encourage them to invest in local enterprises?

I rest my case.


I once got into a lively exchange in mlq3's blog when i proposed importing doctors from India and Cuba. What i believe we are short of is 'years of experience', which is not a simple matter of headcount so restrictions on the entry of experienced professionals does not make sense.


Actually, there is a law that in general allows foreigners to work in the Philippines:

Note that there is a provision for "Foreign professionals who are allowed to practice their profession in the Philippines under reciprocity and other international agreements and in consultancy services pursuant to Section 7(j) of the PRC Modernization Act of 2000."

The way I see it, it's not that different in the US, right? You can't really work in the US unless you are authorized by USCIS. Same in the Philippines, you can't work in the Philippines unless authorized by DOLE. The wording might be different but the end result is the same.

Totoy Bato

Bottom line, jobs and businesses that can NOT be filled by locals should be liberalized. Businesses and jobs that CAN be filled by locals should be protected.

To liberalize or protect everything wholesale is stupid.


@ Totoy Bato:

Even jobs that _can_ be filled by locals should be liberalized. To the extent that supply is limited (and considering the heterogeneous quality of laborers), wages will be artificially high. In any case, nobody predicts there will be a massive influx of laborers from other countries--developed or otherwise--into the Philippines.

The relevant question then, for me, is whether opening up the market is worth the cost. By "cost", I don't mean the cost of the liberalized market itself but rather the cost of the process of liberalizing. Getting Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) to pass such a legislation will neither be cheap nor--more importantly--politically palatable. And where will the support come from? I doubt foreign accounting and law firms can reasonably form a coalition to lobby for such a change.

Given that the influx of foreign professionals will be negligible anyway, I doubt that the marginal benefit of liberalization is greater than the marginal cost of liberalizing itself.

But, of course, this is not a "big picture" analysis. If this were part of a larger trade liberalization package, then it might (quite plausibly, in fact) be worthwhile.

(My, my. Such a long post from a first-time visitor. Sorry!)

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