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The Effect of Brexit on OFWs

Posted on Sep 06, 2017

In a referendum on June 23, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The controversial decision was reached after many months of discussions between the people of the United Kingdom, including a demonstration on the River Thames by politicians on both sides of the argument.
With the United Kingdom home to an estimated 200,000 Overseas Filipino Workers, many have been questioning the effect of Brexit on OFWs.
How could it happen?
Prof. Manuel Enverga III of Ateneo de Manila University’s European Studies Program said in a CNN report that Filipino migrants may be affected.
He was quoted as saying that should these workers be sent home, or if the UK becomes more stringent with its entrance requirements, it may be more difficult for Filipinos who wish to work there.
Given that a considerable percentage (70%, to be precise) of the country’s GDP comes from OFW remittances; it may be affected by Brexit. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, remittances from the UK amount to $1.54 Billion, accounting for 5.97% of the total remittances in 2015.
Many experts, however, are confident that although there may be effects caused by Brexit in the long term, the impact will be minimal. British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad stated that owing to the fact that most OFWs already in the UK arrived under a different immigration regime, it is unlikely they will be affected by any future changes to the immigration policies that may be enacted.
Effects on the economy
When the decision was finalized, investors began flocking to safer markets, like the US. Analysts warned there may be some minimal effect on the Philippine economy, but according to Ambassador Ahmad, trade relations won’t be affected.
The diplomat went on to say that UK investments in the Philippines’ financial market manufacturing and oil and gas would not diminish.
He further stated that the UK’s role in the world won’t be affected, and that the referendum must be activated by Parliament eventually passing further legislation. However, legislation will be delayed until a new Prime Minister is elected.
Final thoughts
While looking at these possible effects, local legislators are urging people to look towards taking action on domestic economic problems over the issue of foreign economic issues. ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng has stated that the country is more than capable of withstanding the tides of any possible Brexit consequences.
While the winds are shifting, it might be easy to worry about one’s status as an OFW, but given the fact that the country has to select a new Prime Minister first, it’ll be much more prudent to wait on further developments.