Trade and Employment

Message at the Stakeholders Forum on Strengthening the Impact on Employment of Sector and Trade Policies

By Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at Stakeholders Forum on Strengthening the Impact on Employment of Sector and Trade Policies, 18 September 2019, Manila, Philippines

Statement | Makati City, Philippines | 18 September 2019
  • Partners from the government, workers and employers and organizations as well from the academe,
  • Distinguished representatives and partners from the EU delegation in the Philippines,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!
I wish I could join you earlier but I had to attend an equally important event. Nevertheless, let me express ILO’s appreciation for your presence in this “Stakeholders Forum on Strengthening the Impact on Employment of Sector and Trade Policies.”

I know that this morning you all took stock of project outputs vis-à-vis the immediate objectives of the STRENGTHEN project.

This afternoon’s activity is also important in terms of providing guidance on felt needs of our constituents in the Philippines.

It has almost been four years since the STRENGTHEN project began in the Philippines. The workshops we will have today bring an opportunity to further look at strategic actions as our stakeholders foresee. This is essential to sustain project outcomes on strengthening links of employment creation, quality of employment and trade policies in the country.

Coming up with strategic actions to sustain what we have achieved through our collaboration are key contributions in addressing what the ILO sees as future of work challenges and opportunities.

As we commemorate this year the ILO Centenary, challenges remain as to whether trade policies around the globe have positively translated into more and better employment.

On the other hand, we also ask ourselves whether enterprises and workers are capable of adjusting to the pressures of more intense foreign trade competition. Finally, we want to know who have been the gainers or losers.

Responding to these questions and concerns are at the heart of the ILO STRENGTHEN project since its inception in February 2016. Thus, in today’s workshop, taking note of what has been achieved so far, we hope that we can discuss what else do we need to enrich the knowledge base that was built, and analyze how trade policies have created impact on decent work and employment outcomes in the Philippines.

What skills and competencies should be enhanced for the Philippines to participate in trade relations towards more positive employment outcomes, and to continue to build the capacity of Filipino technical specialists, researchers and development partners involved in the formulation of sound and strategic trade, employment and industrial policies?

Consistent with ILO’s pursuit of social dialogue, we note that the project opened channels for engaging social partners in policy discussions on the effects of international trade on employment.

This is an acknowledgement that social dialogue and tripartism is crucial to achieving inclusivity in trade policies in the country. Having said that, do we still see gaps in social dialogue mechanisms for trade and employment and consequently what solutions are desirable to address these?

Finally, data and analysis of value chains in employment-rich sectors particularly the results of the TRAVERA in three non-traditional coconut products has been put together with project support. This should provide stakeholders with the knowledge base useful for on-going reforms to address employment and productivity challenges in the coconut sector as a key agricultural export product of the Philippines. Given that, do we still see the need for ILO technical support in these reform efforts?

I am happy to note that today’s gathering not only convened those directly involved in project activities but also those whose mandates or priorities are fully supportive of the goal to achieve decent employment for every Filipino.

Indeed, your presence in this event underscores the importance you give to what the ILO in its global report on the future of work refers to as a human-centred agenda based on increasing investments in people’s capabilities, institutions of work and in decent and sustainable work.

We therefore look forward to your valuable inputs in the workshop discussions as these would to guide us in shaping areas of support to ensure that the Philippines derives a more positive, if not the best outcomes, with reference to its trade policies and trade relations.

Thank you!