Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) how many countries have mutual agreements with Singapore to allow residents to work in each other's country; (b) which are the countries that allow Singaporeans to work in their countries; (c) what is the number of Singaporeans who have worked in each of these countries; and (d) in these countries, what are the professions/positions they are in.
Written reply (to be attributed to Minister for Trade & Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing)
1. As there are no reporting requirements, we do not have the exact number of Singaporeans who are working in specific professions abroad. However, Singaporeans can work overseas under three broad categories of commitments.
2. Firstly, under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), Singaporeans working in companies with overseas presence may work in other WTO members as intra-corporate transferees (ICTs) for a specified number of years, depending on the commitments made by the host member.
3. Secondly, Singaporeans may work in other countries with which we have Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). For example, Singaporean professionals can work in the United States via the H1B1 visa, which was made available to Singapore under the United States-Singapore FTA. Our FTA partners may also make more favourable commitments on Singaporean ICTs, such as by extending the number of years in which Singaporean ICTs may work in their country, going beyond their commitments made in the WTO GATS.
4. Thirdly, mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) and memoranda of understanding (MOUs) signed by our professional bodies allow Singaporean qualifications and licences to be recognised overseas, and vice versa, enhancing the mobility of our professionals. For instance, through the MRA between Singapore’s Institution of Engineers and the Royal Netherlands Society of Engineers signed in July 2018, Singaporean Chartered Engineers whose qualifications are recognised may practice in The Netherlands and vice versa.