The last vote may not have been counted yet, but America’s election “decision desks” have weighed in and declared the country’s 46th president to be Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
The fireworks and victory speeches may be done with, but anxiety remains – not just because the current White House occupant continues to display belligerence with regards the vote, but also because a ton of problems remains, foremost being the recent record-breaking number of coronavirus cases.
If there is any significant lesson that would account for the presumably failed bid of Trump for another four years at the helm of US governance, it would be his botched handling of the coronavirus, which had galvanized undecided and disenchanted voters to support Biden.
The US now leads the world in the number of cases and deaths, as well as having one of the highest percentages of cases per million people. It also has the highest number of seriously and critically ill patients of COVID-19 in the world.
With now more than 240,000 Americans dead because of the pandemic, it has become more apparent that a better job could have been done to prevent such widespread loss of lives and to control the virus’ spread, now officially recorded at more than 10 million affected people.
Other countries like China, South Korea, and Australia have demonstrated that an economy can continue to chug along if the pandemic is kept reasonably under control through simple measures like mask wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing in the absence yet of an effective vaccine.
Boon for BPOs
The sooner American returns to “normalcy,” the better for the global economic health. For the Philippines, this could mean an immediate return to an expansion mode in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, something that slowed down during the Trump years with its America First policy.
BPOs continue to be a significant employer that sops up huge numbers of Filipino college graduates and young professionals, thus helping to continue the growth of our middle class and strengthening consumer buying power. Recent directives by the Philippine government that have also encouraged BPOs to locate outside of Metro Manila would push growth in urban centers in the provinces in the north and south.
The Philippine labor force continues to be an ideal source of employees for the BPO sector compared to competitors like India, and in an area where there is potential for significant expansion in the next few years. With the push for more business digitalization, a more liberal approach by a Biden government would be beneficial.
Overseas job opportunities
Filipinos in specializations where the US currently has a dearth of employee sources, like doctors, nurses, medical technicians, healthcare providers, engineers, and even English teachers, will likely see new opportunities to get working visas.
The US is a major destination for Filipinos looking for job opportunities outside the Philippines. During the four years of the Trump administration, there had been a noticeable slowing down of approvals for job applications of foreign workers to the US.
Other US-based multinational companies that look at Asia as an avenue for overseas growth would also be emboldened to consider investing in the Philippines, considering that our economic team continues to push for a liberalization of foreign ownership doing local business, as well as better incentives for those currently operating in the country.
We cannot expect this to happen soon, though, as the US turns inward in the next few years to prioritize its own economic recovery damaged by the COVID-19 lockdowns. But the relaxation of Trump’s protectionist policies is a good sign.
The incoming Biden administration has already declared its intention to toughen its position on competition poised by China in bilateral trades, as well as its actions to hostage technology of US businesses that want to operate in China.
While this will not likely escalate in the same blustering way that Trump had initiated, the writing is on the wall: the US will fight for further reductions in current trade deficits, and against the transfer of proprietorial technologies that can be used to undermine its ability to compete in the future.
The Philippines will continue to reckon with two world powers that both offer opportunities on many aspects, including endowment of international aid and provision of loans for infrastructure projects in the Duterte government’s Build Build Build program.
On the lighter side, here are some other takeaways from the US elections:
Twitter had prevented Trump and his close aides and officials from spreading contentious and false tweets during the campaign and election tabulation periods, effectively curbing mobilization of his army of loyal supporters.
Political leaders in their 70s like Trump (74) and Biden (77) have demonstrated enormous energy to lead political campaigns that have had significant implications on the lives of more than 330 million people and the biggest economy in the world. More power to senior citizens!
Unreasonably attacking the Fifth Estate does not pay. In the end, the media covering Trump became increasingly firm in correcting his statements, further alienating Trump’s chances of getting wider public support on his views.
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