Updates to FTA 'benefit engineers and accountants'

Engineering and accountancy bodies welcomed updates to the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement, on the back of its concluded review.

The agreement was inked in 2003 and this is the third review, which aimed to reflect current business needs of both countries.

One of the outcomes is "to commence negotiations on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, with priority for engineers and accountants", said a joint statement by Australia and Singapore.

Mr Chong Kee Sen, president of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES), said: "The move towards more mutual recognition of professional engineering qualifications under the new free trade agreement will give an even greater impetus for engineers in Singapore and Australia to seek professional opportunities in each other's countries."

Graduates of accredited programmes here and in Australia already have their qualifications recognised by signatories of the Washington Accord, an international accreditation agreement, including IES and its counterpart, Engineers Australia.

IES attained full signatory status in June 2006, and signed a mutual recognition agreement with Engineers Australia last July - where IES members can get an equivalent level of membership in Engineers Australia or the other way round.

National accountancy body Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) said practising accountants, including those from Australia, must register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, and become an ISCA member.

ISCA chief executive Lee Fook Chiew said many accounting professionals in business have also chosen to be members, and those who want to join the institute must meet its admission requirements.

Ms Trillion So, human capital leader at PwC Singapore, said: "This will promote more knowledge sharing and collaboration... in both economies, and is in line with the objectives of Singapore's aspiration to be a global accountancy hub."

She added that Singapore and Australia will benefit from this increased mutual recognition, and it is also strategically aligned with the Singapore Qualification Programme.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'Updates to FTA 'benefit engineers and accountants''. Print Edition | Subscribe