E.g., 02/28/2024
E.g., 02/28/2024
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.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

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