The United States remains the first choice for Filipinos to settle as permanent residents.
The U.S. is followed closely by Canada, according to Manila Times columnist and international visa counselor Crispin R. Aranda.
In his newspaper column, Aranda also wrote that the other top destinations for migration are Australia, Europe (the UK and Ireland included) and New Zealand.
For temporary (work) migration, the Middle East remains on top of the deployment totem pole, according to Aranda.
Last year, land-based Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Middle East outnumbered the rest, posting a 3.21 percent increase, from 885,541 to 913,958. All other destinations except the Trust Territories showed a reduction in numbers
The U.S. and Canada representing 74 percent of deployed OFWs showed the biggest decline at 37.59 percent.
Aranda explained the decline in Americas in the numbers of OFWs.
Not because there are no jobs available or slow growth but because of the existing migrant selection system (Express Entry in Canada) and the uncertainty of obtaining the temporary work visas in the U.S., Aranda wrote.
Aranda noted that despite the rosy projections of the business process outsourcing sector, President-elect Donald Trump puts the call center jobs in tenterhooks.
Recently, Trump Toyota of high tariff rates if the Japanese company sets up a Toyota manufacturing plant in Mexico. Earlier, he had Carrier and Ford acquiesce by saving and giving jobs to Americans instead of to foreign workers.
Aranda asked if Russia and China can fill in the blanks.
Chines President Xi Jinping is sticking to his path of “new normal”–single-digit growth from a consumption-based economy than the double-digit growth fueled by investments and exports. This slow growth rate and reliance of the domestic populace to keep the growth steady does not augur well for the Philippines even as China has emerged as the Philippines’ second major commercial partner with $17 billion in total trade.
However, with controls on capital outflow by the Chinese government, foreign direct investments from the Asian behemoth and conqueror of the South China Sea could stagnate, if not decrease–not sufficient to fill in the gap that the U.S. and Canada had been providing until the pivot made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping of China.
Could the 6,229 OFWs deployed to China in 2014 double in the years ahead? Before that, let’s move east to another communist geopolitical player, Russia.
During the November 2016 APEC leaders’ meeting in Lima, Russia agreed to increase its imports of Philippine agricultural products – bananas and mangoes– from $46 million to $2.5 billion per year. In addition, the Duterte government is aggressively pursuing Russian tourists.
As for deployed workers, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration reported 1,233 OFWS sent to Russia in 2014, 200 less than the previous year (1,433).
Aranda compared the combined potential trade from Russia and China with the United States:
The U.S. is among the Philippines’ top trading partners, and it traditionally has been the Philippines’ largest foreign investor. US goods and services trade with the Philippines totaled $24 billion in 2012 (latest data available). Exports totaled $10.6 billion; imports totaled $13.3 billion. The US goods and services trade deficit with the Philippines was $862 million in 2013.
With the surge in oil prices, the Middle East should remain the top destination for OFWs. China and Russia may increase its trade volume with the Philippines, but language barriers and lack of familiarity with Russian and China recruitment and work-right compliance are huge barriers to a significant uptick in OFW deployment to the new “allies, partners and protectors.”
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and the UK would continue to host the most number of permanent residents from the Philippines through various routes, especially the student-to-work-to-residence pathway.
The continued decline in OFW deployment to the four Commonwealth nations can be attributed to the current migrant selection which is points system-based: New Zealand has the Expression of Interest; Australia, SkillSelect; Canada, Express Entry; and the UK, the tier-based system.
Except for the UK, applicants to Australia, Canada and New Zealand qualify by earning the maximum points based on the applicant’s age, English proficiency, education/qualification, experience and other bonus factors such as previous stay as student or worker as well as certain qualifying relationships or community support.