The ILO TRIANGLE in ASEAN is a partnership between the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and the International Labour Organization (ILO). TRIANGLE in ASEAN delivers technical assistance and support with the overall goal of maximizing the contribution of labour migration to equitable, inclusive and stable growth in ASEAN.

Programme objectives

TRIANGLE in ASEAN has the overall goal of maximizing the contribution of labour migration to equitable, inclusive and stable growth in ASEAN. It builds on the activities, relationships and processes established under previous phases of the programme.

Programme outcomes

  • Protection: Migrant workers are better protected by labour migration governance frameworks;
  • Development: Policies and programmes harness the potential of women and men migrant workers to contribute to economic and social development and
  • Mobility: Labour mobility systems are gender-responsive and increase the efficiency of labour markets in the ASEAN region.

Labour migration

There are currently over 560,000 Vietnamese workers working abroad, in more than 43 countries and territories worldwide. In 2019, Viet Nam deployed 152,530 migrant workers, of which 54,700 were women, with the top five destination countries for regular migration being: Japan, Taiwan, China, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Romania. Vietnamese migrant workers migrating to Japan and Taiwan, China have made up over 90 per cent of regular labour migration for the past three years (2017-2019), with the number of migrant workers going to Taiwan, China decreasing and those migrating to Japan increasing. Beyond these, significant numbers of migrant workers also travel to the Middle East, Northern Africa, Europe and middle-income countries in Asia.

Within ASEAN, a survey of over 23,000 migrants from Thanh Hoa and Ha Tinh provinces of Viet Nam found that Thailand had become the most common destination, with migrant workers making use of overland routes through the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (ILO, 2015). These movements are almost entirely irregular, as the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Viet Nam and Thailand in 2016 has yet to be implemented and permits only employment in the fishing and construction sectors, where a relatively small number of Vietnamese migrants seek employment (ILO and IOM, 2017).

The Law on Contract Based Overseas Workers 2006 is the overarching framework governing international labour migration in Viet Nam. It is currently undergoing review. Despite this law, a sizeable number of Vietnamese migrant workers are employed irregularly. Concern about the number of Vietnamese workers overstaying their visas and becoming irregular migrant workers in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan (China) has been heard from several stakeholders. Irregular status increases vulnerability to exploitation and limits the channels available for seeking assistance. Irregular migration is punishable by fines and other sanctions in Viet Nam as well as in destination countries.

The Vietnamese Government annually increases national and provincial labour migration targets, and actively promotes labour migration as a means of employment creation, skills improvement and poverty reduction. The Vietnamese Government has developed geographically-targeted policies to encourage labour migration as a poverty reduction strategy. In 20 provinces, the residents of designated ‘poor districts’ are eligible to apply for subsidies to facilitate working overseas. The incentives include loans and financial assistance for language training, vocational skills training, health checks, and other services. While effective at increasing migration in these areas, there are concerns that these policies encourage the most vulnerable populations to migrate, including ethnic minorities with very limited education. According to the World Bank, Viet Nam is the second top receiver of remittances in the Asia-Pacific with remittances inflow at USD$17 billion in 2019 accounting for 6.5 per cent of GDP.

For further information please contact:

Ms Anna Engblom
Chief Technical Adviser
Tel.: +662 288 2245; Email