Taiwan mulls lifting migrant worker entry ban to ease labor shortage

10/07/2021 07:21 PM
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A migrant worker takes a COVID-19 test. CNA file photo
A migrant worker takes a COVID-19 test. CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) Taiwan is considering lifting the entry ban on migrant workers first put in place in late 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to address the country's dire labor shortage.

Taiwan last December suspended entry of Indonesian migrant workers into the country in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases imported from the Southeast Asian country.

It then barred all new migrant workers entering the nation from May 19 due to an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

In an effort to address Taiwan's ongoing labor shortage caused in part by the entry suspension, inter-ministerial discussions are underway in the hope of lifting the entry ban, Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) said Thursday.

The total number of migrant workers in Taiwan passed 700,000 in September 2018, according to labor ministry statistics.

However, following the ban on migrant workers and border restrictions for foreign nationals, the number of migrant workers in the country fell to below 700,000 in July and reached 699,154 in August 2021, the data showed.

With the spread of coronavirus slowing in Taiwan, inter-ministerial meetings have been convened to discuss issues related to lifting the entry ban on new migrant workers and easing border restrictions, Hsu said during a legislative session when asked about the issue.

Participants at the inter-ministerial meetings are inclined to support introducing complementary measures that enable the gradual lifting of the current entry restrictions, said the ministry's Workforce Development Agency Director-General Tsai Meng-liang (蔡孟良).

The proposed measures include providing proof of a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and 14 days of home quarantine followed by a seven-day period of self-health monitoring, according to Tsai.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao)

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