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Malaysia – Borders open to Bangladeshi migrant workers

03 January 2013

Malaysia has resumed recruiting Bangladeshi migrant workers after a four-year pause, an official said on Tuesday. The overseas employment secretary, Zafar Ahmed Khan, told the AFP news agency that recruitment will begin with a call for 10,000 plantation workers.

The Bangladeshi government on Monday announced that an online registration process for those seeking work in Malaysia would start from January 13, following calls for the plantation workers.

The announcement followed a government-to-government deal in November to recruit up to 500,000 workers in manufacturing, service, agriculture and construction sectors in the next five years.

“We are starting with 10,000 workers and by the end of this year the cumulative number would be 100,000,” overseas employment secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan told AFP.

There are currently an estimated 500,000 Bangladeshi labourers in Malaysia, but the Southeast Asian nation has not hired since 2009 following reports of recruitment agencies sending a huge number of migrants to work illegally.

Migrant workers sent home a record USD12.85 billion last financial year, accounting for 12% of Bangladesh's gross domestic product. Impoverished Bangladesh, which heavily relies on multi-billion dollar remittance to spur its economy, has some 8.5 million workers in 157 nations across the globe.

The United Arab Emirates stopped hiring workers from Dhaka in August. The Gulf nation had been the top recruiter from Bangladesh since 2007, replacing Saudi Arabia, which also drastically cut worker numbers.

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