The Philippines’ status as the largest supplier of seafarers to global shipping would not be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the head of the country’s maritime agency, Marina. Chief administrator Robert Empedrad told Lloyd’s List that, despite the emergence of coronavirus variant Omicron and uncertainties regarding the duration of the travel restrictions being imposed in key global economies, the country’s deployments of seafarers in 2021 were on track to reach pre-coronavirus levels before the end of 2021.
He said that “about 35,000 were deployed in June, and I estimate that we might have reached the pre-coronavirus monthly average of 40,000 in August, September and October”.
2020 saw total deployments of 217,223, a significant decline from the 507,730 recorded in 2019.
Seafarers overseas are a major source of income for the Philippine economy, and Empedrad noted that “the total amount of foreign exchange earnings that they sent home in 2020 amounted to $6.4bn, only $100m less from the 2019 level. The small fall indicates that the number of Filipino seafarers at work in ships across the world in 2020 remained very substantial since many presumably simply extended their contracts with employers due to their failure to return home because of coronavirus- related travel restrictions”.