Mr Leong Mun Wai: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry what actions will the Government take to fulfil its obligations for Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) under Article 7.11 of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Gan Kim Yong
1. Article 7.11 of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) is titled Recognition and is a part of the Chapter on Trade in Services.
2. In paragraph 2 of this Article, India and Singapore agreed to ensure that our respective professional bodies in the service sectors of accounting and auditing, architecture, medical (doctors), dental and nursing negotiate and conclude, within twelve months of the date of entry into force of CECA, any such agreements or arrangements providing for mutual recognition of the education or experience obtained, requirements met, or licenses or certifications in those service sectors, the details of such agreements or arrangements, including the exact extent and scope of recognition.
3. In paragraph 3 of Article 7.11, India and Singapore similarly agreed, for any other regulated service sector, to encourage the relevant professional, standard-setting or self-regulatory body to enter into negotiations within a reasonable period of time from the date of a request being received in writing from one Party to the other Party.
4. Importantly, since the negotiations are conducted by the respective professional bodies, paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 7.11 also qualify that any delay or failure by these professional bodies to reach and conclude agreement on the details of such agreements or arrangements shall not be regarded as a breach of a Party’s obligations under the paragraphs.
5. At present, India and Singapore have one MRA under CECA in Nursing Services, negotiated, agreed and signed by the Singapore Nursing Board (SNB) and the Indian Nursing Council (INC).
6. Under this MRA, a Bachelor of Nursing qualification from the Indian nursing schools listed in the MRA is treated as equivalent to a qualification from an accredited nursing programme in Singapore, but the graduate must also pass SNB’s licensure examination and meet the prevailing work pass criteria before he/she can work in Singapore as a nurse. The MRA does not give a graduate from these Indian nursing schools unfettered access to employment in Singapore. Correspondingly, a qualification from any of the Singapore schools listed in the MRA is recognised by the Indian Nursing Council as equivalent to a Bachelor of Nursing qualification from the Indian nursing schools listed in the MRA. A Singapore nurse may apply to be registered as a nurse in India if the Singapore nurse meets the other requirements for such registration.
7. MRAs do not guarantee automatic approval for foreign professionals to be employed in Singapore. All foreign professionals, including those who meet the requirements in the MRAs, must also meet our prevailing work pass criteria.