A Philippines outsourcing lobby group has reassured American outsourcing firms not to be concerned over President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about severing ties with the United States, describing his words as nothing more than “political noise.”
“Duterte’s statements on the US have not translated into policy changes,” said Genny Inocencio-Marcial, Executive Director of IT-BPO Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), in an email reply to Nearshore Americas.
President Duterte stunned American firms last month when he announced that his country would break away from the U.S. and align with China. At first glance, his statement appeared to be real because it had come after he called President Barack Obama “son of a whore”.
“We believe there’s no reason for companies to be concerned about the President’s earlier pronouncements since those have been proven to be just rhetoric,” Marcial added.
Philippines is often described as the world’s call center capital, with hundreds of American corporate firms depending on Filipinos for customer care service. The BPO industry is the second-largest source of income for the Philippines, employing 1.2 million people and generating $22 billion in annual revenue.
Duterte’s statement jolted even the lobby group, with its members trying to meet him in person on his return from China. However, there are no reports whether they met him or if he reassured them.
Although Marcial is saying that the president does not mean what he said, the political rhetoric has created jitters among foreign outsourcing firms – such as Teleperformance, Qualfon, and Convergys – which have significant operations in the Asian country.
The fear has not led to any of them exiting the country altogether, but, according to ABS-CBN News, some companies appear to have put expansion plans on hold, and human resource (HR) agencies are experiencing a slowdown in hiring.
Not just the BPO industry, Philippines is America’s major business partner. According to CNN, U.S. companies have invested more than $4.7 billion in the Philippines, and America also accounts for roughly a third of the $17.6 billion that Filipinos working overseas have sent home this year.