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Taiwan in talks with Southeast Asian countries for new migrant worker sources

Details of new migrant worker plan cannot be disclosed yet due to ongoing diplomatic negotiations

Indonesian workers 

Indonesian workers  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is expected to introduce migrant workers from new source nations starting 2022 to address labor shortage woes, according to the nation's labor authorities.

Though the nations in question are confirmed to be in Southeast Asia, the details cannot yet be disclosed due to ongoing diplomatic negotiations, said Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) on Wednesday (Dec. 2) during a legislative interpellation session, wrote UDN.

A task force will be established to carry out the program, with memorandums of understanding (MOUs) expected to be signed with prospective countries next year, Hsu added.

Taiwan has temporarily blocked entry of Indonesian workers for two weeks from Dec. 2 amid a spike of coronavirus cases among migrant laborers from the archipelagic country. Around 1,350 people are estimated to be affected by the measure aimed at lowering COVID-19 transmission risks, said CNA.

Indonesians make up the majority of caregivers in Taiwan, with numbers reaching 197,000, or 77 percent of total foreign caregivers in 2019, according to the National Development Council. However, the situation may change following the unilateral rule introduced by the Indonesian government asking foreign employers to shoulder the cost for certain categories of migrant workers planning to work abroad.

Taiwan has refused to accept the request, which could translate to a burden of NT$70,000 (US$2,454) to NT$100,000 for Taiwanese employers. The two sides have yet to initiate talks on this matter, creating uncertainty for Taiwan’s caregiver workforce as the new measure takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.

Currently, Indonesians, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and Thai constitute the majority of Taiwan's migrant worker population.