Objective 1.1

Ease of movement of people, capital, services and data across borders

Action 1.1I

In progress

The Government will increase the two-way mobility of professionals to and from key markets through continuing the inclusion of practical mechanisms in free trade agreements for professional bodies/regulators to collaborate and eliminate ‘behind-the-border’ procedural and other barriers.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Government response
Related Action/s

Continue to pursue the recognition of Australian qualifications and professional recognition overseas, and in-demand foreign qualifications in Australia.


Progress to date

Australia continues to include professional services specific chapters or annexes in free trade agreements to provide an ongoing facilitative mechanism for regulators and industry associations to work with their counterparts in FTA partner countries to:

  • develop temporary, limited or project-specific licensing or registration regime for professionals; and
  • negotiate and implement mutual recognition agreements.

This includes free trade agreements under negotiation, such as with the European Union, as well as efforts to build-on existing agreements, such as the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

During the eleventh negotiating round between Australia and the European Union on 1-11 June 2021, the mutual recognition and professional services chapter was provisionally closed. The Chapter includes a framework for the mutual recognition of professional services qualifications, licensing and registration between Australia and the European Union.

At the first meeting of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement Joint Commission on 24 June 2021, the Parties agreed to consider establishing a professional services subsidiary body and will conduct stakeholder consultations and begin work on possible Terms of Reference for consideration.

On 2 December 2021, negotiations at the World Trade Organization concluded on the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation (DR JSI). The initiative is aimed at reducing red tape and administrative costs, and creating a more transparent operating environment for services exporters looking to access overseas markets. After four years of hard work, this is the first new set of services trade rules in a quarter of a century.

The agreement, which comprises 67 WTO Members – including the 27 EU Member States – accounts for over 90% of global services trade. A joint OECD-WTO study calculated that implementation of these rules could generate annual trade cost savings in the range of USD 150 billion for members of the agreement, with important gains in a range of sectors including financial, business, communications and transport services.

For example, when an Australian professional applies for a licence to supply a service in a DR JSI member country; that country commits to providing complete, accurate and publicly available information regarding the application requirements. The country also commits to processing the application in a timely manner and the licence entering into effect without undue delay.

This is how these new rules will make the supply of a service in an overseas market clearer, more predictable and transparent, and ensure that processes are not unduly burdensome on businesses.

“This is a real win for Australian services exporters. We have agreed to cut red tape by reducing complex and costly regulatory burdens in overseas markets,” former Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said in welcoming the agreement.