- Assistant Secretary Avila of the Department of Labor and Employment,
- Director Guevarra of the Department of Trade and Industry,
- Mr van Hattum, Head of the Economic and Trade Section of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines,
- Distinguished officials from the government, workers organizations and employers’ organizations
- Representatives from export sectors and industries, academe, and civil society,
- Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! [Good morning to all of you]
Also, allow me to thank each one of you for presence and participation in the series of meetings and consultations held prior to this inception workshop.
The ILO is also grateful to the European Union (EU) for funding and supporting this project not only here in the Philippines but also in five other countries where the project is simultaneously implemented, namely, Myanmar, Ghana, Benin, Morocco and Guatemala.
At the global level, the project seeks to strengthen coherence and link between trade and employment with policies and programmes towards decent and productive work. It further aims for international trade to contribute to creating more employment opportunities by raising productivity, especially in the domestic and export-oriented sectors and industries.
The ILO, together with government, workers and employers organizations, promotes decent work for all. Through this EU-supported STRENGTHEN Project, the ILO seeks to further enhance their capacity, along with key partners and stakeholders to maximize the benefits of trade and investment policies. This is in relation to the quality and quantity of jobs that can be created in identified export sectors and industries through targeted policy researches, trade-related technical assistance and policy advice at the national, regional and global levels.
Over the last six years, the Philippines experienced sustained economic growth, increased in foreign investments and decreased unemployment rate.
However, despite these gains and with Philippine exports facing intense global competition, challenges remain. How can we ensure that economic growth is inclusive and that the benefits of trade are felt by all? This is also highlighted under Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which is to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.
The STRENGTHEN Project contributes to this goal, with its objective of raising the number of workers in decent and productive employment in domestic and export-oriented sectors and industries in the Philippines.
At the same time, this project, along with other ongoing ILO projects on green jobs, labour standards compliance, fair recruitment and migration, child labour, occupational safety and health, and freedom of association, supports the Philippines towards opening more opportunities.
Under the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preference (GSP), full removal of tariffs is granted to countries that ratify and implement core international conventions relating to human and labour rights, environment and good governance.
The project further contributes to achieving commitments of the new administration under its socio-economic agenda, particularly on promoting rural and value chain development, investing in human capital development through skills training that addresses the needs of the industry, and strengthening social protection programmes to protect vulnerable people from economic shocks.
This inception workshop is an opportunity for us to work collectively to ensure decent and productive work for all, and to enhance trade and employment policies.
Your active participation and cooperation is vital. Your wealth of knowledge, experience and insights can help enrich dialogue towards coming up with common agreements, visions and objectives in this workshop that will help guide and ensure the success of the project.
As I end, let me wish you a meaningful and successful workshop and thank each of you for your continued support and partnership.