Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) in the services sector are key elements of ASEAN integration in trade in services. An MRA facilitates trade in services by the recognition among the ASEAN Member States (AMS) for professionals who are authorised, licensed or certified by the respective authorities within the framework of the MRAs. An MRA enables the qualifications of services suppliers, recognised by the authorities in their home country, to be mutually recognised by other AMS who are signatories to the MRAs. MRAs are not expected to override local laws. Instead, the agreements are applicable only in accordance with prevailing laws and regulations of the host country.
The ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS), signed on 15 December 1995 in Bangkok, Thailand, recognises the importance of MRAs to facilitate deeper services trade integration in ASEAN. And as a testament to the commitment to deepen services trade integration, ASEAN Leaders during the 7 th Summit in November 2001 mandated the start of negotiations on MRA to facilitate the flow of professional services under AFAS. Since then, ASEAN has concluded and signed MRAs in several occupations:
- MRA on Engineering Services (9 December 2005);
- MRA on Nursing Services (8 December 2006);
- MRA on Architectural Services and Framework Arrangement for the Mutual Recognition of Surveying Qualifications (19 November 2007);
- MRA on Medical Practitioners and MRA on Dental Practitioners (26 February 2009);
- MRA Framework on Accountancy Services (26 February 2009) and subsequently as MRA on Accountancy Services (13 November 2014); and
- MRA on Tourism Professionals (9 November 2012).
Various committees have been established to implement these MRAs and each of the MRA has its own mechanism for recognition and facilitation of qualified professionals in the region.