Understanding the ASEAN way of regional qualification governance

The case of mutual recognition agreements in the professional service sector

Shintaro Hamanaka, Sufian Jusoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Existing studies on Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) are mostly based on the European experience. In this paper, we discuss the ongoing attempt of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to establish very unique MRAs, using professional service qualifications, particularly engineering, as a case study. Several ASEAN professional service qualification MRAs employ a “hub-and spoke” model, wherein neither the hub (regional mechanism) nor the spokes (national authorities) are more powerful than the other. This model features both harmonization of professional qualifications led by regional mechanisms and the recognition of partner countries’ qualifications granted by national authorities. Why does ASEAN need unique MRA governance that features both harmonization and mutual recognition? We find several valid practical explanations, such as limitations of supranational power, confidence building among members, and capacity development. More fundamentally, neither simple harmonization nor simple mutual recognition functions well in ASEAN, where three types of gaps exist among member states. The diversity in legal backgrounds suggests that the combination of harmonization preferred by civil law countries and mutual recognition preferred by common law countries is suitable. The variety in social norms ranging from market mechanisms to social safety implies that the combination of harmonization and mutual recognition is also suitable. Gaps in the price and quality of professional services across ASEAN member states requires the unique approach to facilitate and control the movement of professionals and to promote the joint practice between foreign and local professionals in both high and low income countries to create a win-win situation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRegulation and Governance
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018

Fingerprint

ASEAN
harmonization
tertiary sector
qualification
governance
civil law
market mechanism
common law
Social Norms
low income
confidence
engineering
experience

Keywords

  • institutional design of regionalism, mutual recognition agreement (MRA)
  • professional qualifications
  • the ASEAN way

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Law

Cite this

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