Reinventing Mutual Recognition Arrangements: Lessons from International Experiences and Insights for the ASEAN Region

Publication | February 2017

Approaches to mutual recognition implemented in the Americas, the Asia–Pacific, and Europe offer lessons to policymakers seeking to operationalize ASEAN mutual recognition arrangements.

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Governments and nonstate actors around the world have signed mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs), but while most of them share the goals of streamlining the recognition of foreign workers’ qualifications and boosting labor mobility, the MRAs vary considerably. Implementation challenges faced in the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe offer lessons for Asian policymakers seeking to operationalize the MRAs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This report is the latest in a project by ADB and the Migration Policy Institute to improve understanding of the barriers to the free movement of professionals within ASEAN and to support the development of strategies to overcome these hurdles. The report draws on insights of nearly 400 ASEAN and member state officials, private sector employers, training directors, and others who participated in focus group discussions, meetings, and surveys.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • After 100 Years, Three Insights on Mutual Recognition Arrangements Worldwide
  • Three Routes to the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications
  • A Horizontal Approach: Inclusive Mutual Recognition Arrangements Covering Virtually All Occupations
  • A Vertical Approach: Narrow Mutual Recognition Arrangements Limited to Specific Occupations and Sectors
  • Umbrella-Agreement Approach: Detailed Guidelines for Future Mutual Recognition Arrangements
  • Five Key Lessons for the ASEAN Region
  • Appendixes

Additional Details

  • Regional cooperation and integration
  • Social development and protection
  • Migration, trafficking, and human mobility
  • Social protection - labor and employment
  • 64
  • 8.5 x 11
  • RPT178636-2
  • 978-92-9257-733-9 (Print)
  • 978-92-9257-734-6 (e-ISBN)

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