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108th International Labour Conference - ASPAG ministerial meeting

Asia-Pacific and Arab States labour ministers: Harness opportunities of the future, for decent work for all

Asia Pacific Group (ASPAG) labour ministers met on sidelines of the Centenary session of the International Labour Conference to exchange ideas on generating Decent Work for sustainable development in the wider Asia Pacific region.

News | 13 June 2019
Meeting of the labour ministers of the Arab States and Asia-Pacific Group (ASPAG) at the 108th International Labour Conference.
GENEVA (ILO News) – Ministers of Labour from the Asia Pacific Group of the ILO (ASPAG) met on the sidelines of the 108th International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva on 19 June to discuss issues impacting on the world of work in the region.

The Group is chaired this year by China, and the meeting opened with addresses by Minister Counsellor Zhang Yungwu of the Permanent Mission of China in Geneva, who recalled the transformations affecting the world of work.

“Technological information and innovation, climate change, and demographic change are reshaping the future of work all over the world,” Zhang Yungwu said.

“As the most powerful and dynamic economic growth engine in the world, it is crucial for the national labour authorities in Asia and the Pacific to make concerted efforts to seize the opportunities brought by the future of work, and deal with the challenges in front of us to achieve the goal of Decent Work for all,” he added.

The meeting was also addressed by ILO Regional Director for the Asia Pacific region Tomoko Nishimoto and ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat, who gave an overview of the ILO’s development cooperation (DC) in the region.

“The economic transition we see in Asia today, from least developed to middle income countries, is marked by the growth of sectors such as manufacturing, construction and service, where informal employment is prominent,” Regional Director Nishimoto said, addressing ministers at the meeting.

“However, high employment ratios and productivity gains in the region mask persistent and worrying decent work deficits that need to be urgently addressed,” Nishimoto said. She added: “strengthening partnerships and financing Decent Work programmes through domestic funding is key to developing national ownership and ensure long-term systemic national capacity building.”

Regional Director Jaradat said that in the Arab States region, “long-lasting geo-political concerns and active armed conflicts have led to massive movements of populations and increased socio-economic challenges. Poverty has further increased, and inequality in the region is the highest world-wide. Youth and women are particularly affected.”

Jaradat told ministers at the meeting that “the ILO’s development cooperation portfolio in the Arab States region is designed to address these challenges and has continued to grow over the past years. The ILO has strengthened partnerships with traditional donors and has begun working with new ones, as well as forging new global partnerships with multilaterals, and with other UN agencies.”

Jaradat also pointed to six new Decent Work Country Programmes in the Arab States region, and sited a number of improvements countries in the region have introduced in the area of labour migration.

Ministers presented updates on the labour market and employment situation in their countries. The meeting closed with handing over the year-long chairmanship of ASPAG to Iran. The Group will meet again at the ILO’s Governing Body session in November.