Reinventing Mutual Recognition Arrangements: Lessons from International Experiences and Insights for the ASEAN Region
For more than 100 years, governments and nonstate actors have signed Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) in an effort to provide a uniform and transparent way of recognizing the qualifications of foreign workers as they seek to work in another country. MRAs are important international instruments, yet their scope and use have been rather limited.
Drawing upon case studies of MRA experiences in Europe, North America, and beyond, this MPI-Asian Development Bank report offers possible lessons for policymakers and licensing bodies in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States, as they deepen implementation of MRAs in the tourism sector and six regulated occupations (accountancy, architecture, dentistry, engineering, medicine, and nursing).
On paper, the MRAs aim to harmonize and strengthen the provision of professional services in the ASEAN region, and ultimately facilitate the intraregional mobility of skilled workers. In practice, however, the MRAs have proven difficult to implement effectively, and ASEAN Member States face significant obstacles to their fulfillment.
II. After 100 Years, Three Insights on MRAs Worldwide
III. Three Routes to the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications
IV. A Horizontal Approach: Inclusive MRAs Covering Virtually All Occupations
A. EU Professional Qualifications Directive
B. Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement of New Zealand and Australia
V. A Vertical Approach: Narrow MRAs Limited to Specific Occupations and Sectors
A. MRA between Architectural Licensing Authorities of the United States and Canada
B. The Washington Accord on Engineering
C. CARICOM Skills Certificate Scheme
VI. Umbrella-Agreement Approach: Detailed Guidelines for Future MRAs
A. The France-Québec Accord
B. APEC Architect Project
VII. Five Key Lessons for the ASEAN Region
Reinventing MRAs for the 21st Century
Appendix 1. Methodology
Appendix 2. List of Participants in Formal Meetings and Interviews
Appendix 3. Affiliations of Stakeholders Who Completed MRA Implementation Survey