Nation could introduce Myanmar workers by June: foreign minister


TAIPEI–Taiwan is planning to bring in workers from Myanmar on a trial basis in the first half of the year, Foreign Minister David Lin has confirmed, according to a local newspaper.

In a Commercial Times report on Thursday, Lin was cited as saying that Southeast Asia has been the focus of Taipei’s diplomatic initiatives in the past year, and it set up a representative office in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, in December.

Myanmar’s government also set up the Myanmar Trade Office in Taipei in June 2015, and the next step, Lin said, could be to introduce workers from that country into Taiwan.

Responding to speculation that Taiwan’s electronics companies will be allowed to hire workers from Myanmar, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said separately that the introduction of such workers will be conducted on a trial basis and not be confined initially to a specific industry.

Specific regulations, it said, will be drafted by the Ministry of Labor (MOL).

Most of Taiwan’s foreign laborers come from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, and most domestic helpers come from Indonesia.

But threats by Indonesia’s government to stop sending domestic helpers to Taiwan by 2017 have led to efforts to diversify sources of foreign workers.

Myanmar’s government is willing to allow its workers to come to Taiwan, and the caliber and culture of that country’s workers seem to be a good fit for Taiwan’s needs, the MOFA has said.

Other potential new sources of migrant workers, according to the Commercial Times report, are Sri Lanka and Laos.

The MOL denied a report on Dec. 3 that Taiwan was to introduce some 150 workers from Myanmar by the end of 2015, saying that the two sides had yet to decide on a time frame for the move.