Supported by International Labour Organization and the European Union, STRENGTHEN (2016-2018) aims to strengthen the employment dimension in policies and programmes related to international trade with better analysis, more coherent policy making, and enhanced programmes that are designed to encourage employment creation and upgrading.

DTI handles this project together with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), other NGAs, and Labor and Employers’ Organization.







  • Coordinated and attended the first Tripartite Working Group Meeting of the International Labor Organization- (ILO) STRENGTHEN Project which was chaired by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Assistant Secretary Alex Avila and co-chaired by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba. The selection of the coconut industry as the export sector of focus for the STRENGTHEN Project’s programme support on value chains and skills upgrading in the Philippines was discussed in the meeting.
  • Coordinated among concerned DTI offices and bureaus the meeting invitation of ILO on the STRENGTHEN Project’s second Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting which was held on 29 May 2017. Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba attended the said TWG meeting, wherein the members proposed the following products as coconut sub-sector focus: virgin coconut oil, activated carbon, coco coir and coco sugar.

  • Attended the third ILO STRENGTHEN Project TWG Meeting together with representatives from DTI-Bureau of International Trade Relations (BITR) and DTI- Bureau of Trade and Industrial Policy Research (BTIPR) on 31 July 2017. The TWG members agreed that the value chains mapping could focus on the three (3) non-traditional products being championed by the Philippines Coconut Authority (PCA): coco coir, coco sugar and VCO—which are currently being supported by its KAANIB Enterprise program which seeks to support village-level enterprises for domestic/export production.

  • Coordinated the ILO STRENGTHEN Mid-Term Evaluation Meeting which was held on 14 August 2017. In attendance were Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba and representatives from Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMED), Export Development Council (EDC), Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), Bureau of International Trade Relations (BITR) and Bureau of Trade and Industrial Policy Research (BTIPR).
  • Coordinated the Follow-Up Workshop Training on Assessing and Addressing the Effects of Trade on Employment which was held on 24-25 August 2017. This was participated by technical staff from RGMS, BSMED, BTIPR, BITR and EMB.

  • Participated in the ILO TWG Meeting held on 08 Sep 2017 where the third draft of the inception study of the Impact of Trade on Employment was presented. The proposed Trade and Labour Standards Workshop, which is slated for Oct 2017, was also discussed.
  • Coordinated the proposed courtesy call with DTI Officials of Ms. Karen Curtis, the ILO Deputy Director for Standards. The courtesy call was in conjunction with the Trade and Labour Standards Workshop which was held on 10-12 Oct 2017.
  • Coordinated the conduct of and participated in the ILO National Tripartite Conference on Trade and Labour Standards which was held on 11-12 Oct 2017.


  • Assisted ILO CO Manila and represented DTI in the multi-stakeholder meeting in preparation for the Inception Workshop of the ILO STRENGTHEN Project
  • Participated in the Inception Workshop held at the Century Park Hotel on 6-7 October 2016. The workshop, which was attended by representatives from DOLE and other NGAs as well as social partners and other stakeholders, has for its goals: (a) to create connections between interested parties for policy dialogue; (b) to provide a conceptual framework for assessing the effects of trade on employment; (c) to disseminate up-to-date statistics on the Philippines' trade and labour markets; (d) to discuss and exchange views and experiences on the impact of trade on employment in the Philippines; and (e) to validate the Country Work Plan.
  • Coordinated the meeting with ILO to discuss the draft ToR for the Creation of the Tripartite Technical Working Group
  • Coordinated, assisted, and attended the Preliminary Tripartite Technical Working Group. It was agreed that the focus sector for the TRAVERA program is processed food specifically coconut.

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