Taipei, Dec. 2 (CNA) Taiwan is seeking to recruit migrant workers from a Southeast Asian nation that does not currently provide the country with foreign workers, according to Labor Minster Hsu Ming-chun Wednesday -- two days after a two-week COVID-19-related ban on Indonesian migrant workers was announced.
The Minister made the remark when asked by reporters if the government plans to expand the number of countries from which Taiwan hires migrant workers on the sidelines of a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee.
Hsu confirmed two discussions were held with representatives from the country in November to explore the possibility of making it easier for its nationals to work in Taiwan, but declined to name the nation.
Taiwan hopes to sign a memorandum of understanding with the country next year and be able to recruit migrant workers by 2022, Hsu said.
The number of migrant workers in Taiwan was 701,240 in October, with 37.79 percent from Indonesia, 32.58 from Vietnam, 21.54 from the Philippines and 8.09 from Thailand, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Labor (MOL).
As of the end of October, there were 264,984 Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan, with 253,285 employed as caregivers and domestic workers, the data shows.
Responding to concerns that the two-week ban could cause a shortage of migrant workers, Hsu said the government will mobilize all available resources to help caregiver agencies get through the ban.
A Taiwanese caregiver-matching mechanism operated by the MOL is also expected to ease the shortage, the minister said, adding that where necessary, employers of migrant workers can apply for short-term contract extensions for employees whose contracts are about to expire.
The two-week ban came after a surge in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases from Indonesia in recent days.
To date, Taiwan has reported a total of 685 cases of COVID-19, with 593 classified as imported. Among the imported cases, the No. 1 source is the United States with 118, followed by Indonesia at 109, according to CECC data.
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