Date Published:
Dec 10, 2019
Policy Notes
PN 2019-12

Mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) facilitate the movement of skilled labor within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This Policy Note reviews these MRAs and provides an alternative lens in analyzing the mobility of skilled workers in ASEAN. Among others, it finds that while MRAs have inspired continuous improvement of professional competencies to be at par with the international competition, benchmarking of best practices is lacking. Mobility of professionals, in reality, may not ensue because nearly every country has visa, residence, and work permit restrictions, which can impede the movement of professionals to country locations where they are needed. There is hesitation among ASEAN member-states to give up their domestic regulation and nationally defined standards toward accrediting and licensing professionals. Hence, there is a need to reform domestic regulations to liberalize highly restrictive professions. For ASEAN to realize free trade in services, member-states are urged to harmonize their regulatory frameworks in order to have convergence of regulations, establish a harmonized and streamlined process of identifying the training needs and addressing the competency gaps of professionals, and promote a multistakeholder approach to curriculum design and quality control.


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