E.g., 10/18/2019
E.g., 10/18/2019

The Long Road Ahead: Status Report on the Implementation of the ASEAN MRAs on Professional Services

March 2017

The Long Road Ahead: Status Report on the Implementation of the ASEAN MRAs on Professional Services

Nearly a decade ago, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) in seven occupations (accountancy, architecture, dentistry, engineering, medicine, nursing, and tourism) as well as a Framework Arrangement on Mutual Recognition in surveying, designed to facilitate professional mobility within the region. If fully implemented, the MRAs would directly support the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) goal of facilitating skill mobility by easing the often-onerous requirement that foreign professionals requalify in the destination country.

For the MRAs to be fully implemented, however, the laws must be translated into a clear working process of mutual recognition and registration. Progress in this area remains painfully slow and uneven across countries and for all occupations, as this MPI-Asian Development Bank (ADB) report reveals.

MRAs are not easy to operationalize. Despite progress in some key areas, barriers at the national and regional level persist. This report examines how MRAs are functioning at the national and regional levels by exploring implementation by country. While progress has occurred in the creation of necessary implementing offices and bodies at regional and national levels and the incorporation or transposition of MRA principles into national laws, much work remains to be done to operationalize MRA principles into detailed regulations, plans, procedures, and mechanisms that professionals can utilize now.

“With a renewed focus on capacity building and an appetite to learn by doing … the ASEAN region can create a strong foundation now, even though key building blocks are not yet in place,” the report concludes.

The report is the final one in a series produced through an ADB-MPI research project that aims to improve understanding of the barriers to the free movement of professionals within the ASEAN region and to support the development of strategies to overcome these hurdles.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. The Role of MRA in the ASEAN Economic Community: Ambitions and Expectations

A. The ASEAN Economic Community’s Grand Ambitions

B. Great Expectations

III. Paper vs. Practice: Key Progress on Mutual Recognition Arrangements Implementation

A. Creating Implementing Offices and Bodies

B. Establishing the Legislative Framework

C. Operationalizing a Process of Mutual Recognition and Registration

IV. Towards Full Implementation: Key Challenges

A. Technical Challenges

B. Institutional Challenges

V. Beyond Issues of Mutual Recognition: Linking Development and Mobility

VI. Conclusion: Taking the “ASEAN Way” Forward

A. Learning by Doing

B. Getting Back to Basics

C. The Long Road Ahead


Appendix 1. Methodology

Appendix 2. List of Participants in Formal Meetings and Individual Interviews

Appendix 3. Affiliations of Stakeholders who Completed MRA Implementation Survey