Working towards Liberalisation in 
Surveying Services

The applications of NAFTA, the EU and MERCOSUR to the surveying profession and the response of the profession in the four MERCOSUR countries

Papers presented at a seminar held in Buenos Aires, Argentina
on 15 April 1996 



The North American Free Trade Agrement (NAFTA) - its application to the surveying profession
by Robert W Foster, Vice-President (USA), FIG

Experiences within the European Union of Developing a Regime for the Liberalisation of Trade in Services - with particular reference to the work of the Comité de Liaison des Géomètres Européens (CLGE)
by Ernst Höflinger, immediate past chairman, FIG Commission 3 and Austrian delegate to the CLGE

El Mercado Comun del Sur (MERCOSUR)
by María Cristina Boldorini, Minister responsible for MERCOSUR, Government of Argentina

Joint Professional Activities and their Organisation within MERCOSUR
by Eduardo Marquez, Vice-President, Consejo Profesional de la Ingeniería, Arquitectura y Agrimensura de la Provincia de Corrientes, Argentina

Responsibilities and Qualification of the Surveyor in Argentina
by Carlos Gillone, President, Federación Argentina de Agrimensores

Surveying in Brazil
by Miguel Prieto, President, Federação Nacional dos Engenheiros Agrimensores, Brazil

Surveying in Paraguay
by Rodolfo P Cáceres González, President, Asociación de Agrimensores del Paraguay

Surveying in Uruguay: Regulation and Professional Training
by Nelma Bénia Llano, member of the Directing Committee of the Asociación del Agrimensores del Uruguay

Orders for printed copies


The first annual meeting of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) to be held in South America took place in Buenos Aires on 15 - 18 April 1996. It was hosted by the Argentinian member association of FIG, the Federación Argentina de Agrimensores (FADA). The meeting occurred at a time when liberalisation of trade in services was (and continues to be) high on the Federation’s agenda; and the opportunity was therefore taken to organise a half-day seminar to consider how the profession in three regions - North American, Europe and the southern American cone - and in the individual countries within one of these regions - the southern American cone - are facing up to the challenge. In particular the seminar studied and compared experiences in harmonising standards of academic education and professional training and in securing cross-border recognition of professional qualifications.

This publication contains the papers that were presented at the seminar. It was attended by surveyors from all over the world, including seven South American countries and a particularly strong contingent from the home country, Argentina.

The first two papers describe how surveyors are contributing and reacting to the liberalisation regimes that are already being developed by the North American Free Trade Agreement and within the European Union. The third paper summarise the achievements to date of MERCOSUR (the common market of the southern American cone, comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) which, having established its custom union, is now turning its attention to services. The fourth paper describes the work of the committee which four professions, including the surveying profession, in the MERCOSUR countries have established to harmonise qualifications and otherwise prepare for MERCOSUR’s own work to create a free market in services.

The last four papers describe the education, practice and regulation of the profession in each of the MERCOSUR countries. They highlight the problems of creating common standards in countries whose educational, institutional and regulatory regimes differ not only from country to country but also from state to state within two of the countries; but they also show how, by working together in the interests of the profession, such problems can be overcome.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
– its application to the surveying profession

by Robert W Foster

1. The Agreement

1.1 On 12 August 1992 the trade representatives of Mexico, Canada and the United States concluded negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was passed and signed by the respective governments in late 1993 and became effective on 1 January 1994.

1.2 NAFTA is a comprehensive trade agreement intended to improve all aspects of doing business in North America by eliminating tariffs completely and removing many non-tariff barriers such as import licences. NAFTA facilitates cross-border investment by ensuring that investors receive treatment equal to that of domestic investors. Strong rules of origin assure that tariffs are reduced only for goods made in North America. Parties to NAFTA (the Agreement) have agreed to implement uniform customs procedures and regulations.

Trade in Services

1.3 The US-Canada Free Trade Agreement of 1988 established the first comprehensive set of principles governing trade in services. NAFTA broadens these protections and extends them to Mexico. Virtually all services are covered in the Agreement, with the exception of aviation transport, maritime, and basic telecommunications.

Intellectual Property Provisions

1.4 NAFTA provides high standards of protection for intellectual property covering patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, industrial designs and the like. The Agreement protects industry by reducing the risk that products of creativity and innovation could be unfairly exploited.

Government Procurement

1.5 NAFTA includes a government procurement provision applying not only to goods but also to contracts for services and construction.

Standards as Obstacles to Trade

1.6 NAFTA prohibits the use of standards and technical regulations as obstacles to trade by requiring that standards-related measures be applied in a non-discriminatory manner to both domestically produced and imported products. Companies and other interested parties may participate in the development of new standards in the other countries on the same basis as domestic entities.

Temporary Entry

1.7 Uniform and transparent procedures to facilitate temporary entry of business persons to conduct trade in goods and services and investment activities have been developed under NAFTA between Mexico and the US. Existing US-Canada provisions are in place from the 1988 Agreement between those two countries. They provide for temporary entry for company executives and mangers, sales representatives, agents and buyers, after-sales service providers and professionals. Practitioners of 63 occupations including engineers, biologists and pharmacists are eligible to use NAFTA entry provisions.

Dispute Resolution

1.8 NAFTA provides several procedures for the settlement of disputes involving the application or interpretation of the Agreement. A trilateral free trade commission will regularly review trade relations among the three countries and discuss specific problems. In disputes regarding environmental, safety, health-related or other scientific matters, dispute resolution panels may call upon experts for advice. Investors may take a host country directly to international arbitration for settlement of disputes involving monetary damages arising from violations of NAFTA’s investment provisions. The Agreement encourages the use of alternative dispute settlements, including arbitration, for commercial disputes between private parties.

2. Professional Services

Licensing and Certification

2.1 On the subject of licensing and certification the Agreement states "With a view to ensuring that any measure adopted or maintained by a Party relating to the licensing or certification of nationals of another Party does not constitute an unnecessary barrier to trade, each Party shall endeavour to ensure that any such measure (a) is based on objective and transparent criteria such as competence and the ability to provide a service; (b) is not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of a service; and (c) does not constitute a disguised restriction on the cross-border provision of a service".

2.2 The Agreement calls for the elimination of "any citizenship or permanent residency requirement ...". The Agreement also encourages the development of temporary licensing procedures, calling on each Party to the Agreement to consult with the relevant in-country professional bodies to obtain recommendations on procedures for temporary licensing, the development of model procedures, identification of engineering specialities, and other matters relating to temporary licensing.

Development of Professional Standards

2.3 Parties to the Agreement are encouraged to develop standards for the licensing and certification of professionals with regard to (a) education - accreditation of schools or academic programmes; (b) examinations - qualifying examinations for licensing including alternative methods of assessment such as oral examinations and interviews; (c) experience - length and nature of experience required for licensing; (d) conduct and ethics - standards of professional conduct and the nature of disciplinary action for non-conformity with those standards; (e) professional development and re-certification - continuing education and on-going requirements to maintain professional certification; (f) scope of practice - extent of, or limitation on, permissible activities; (g) local knowledge - requirements for knowledge of such matters as local laws, regulations, language, geography or climate; and (h) consumer protection - alternatives to residency requirements including bonding, professional liability insurance and client restitution funds to provide for the protection of consumers.

3. NAFTA and the Engineering Profession


3.1 An example of the implementation of the Agreement by a professional group may be found in the Mutual Recognition Document (MRD) negotiated by the representative engineering organization (REO) from each of Mexico, Canada and the United States. The REOs were the Comité Mexicano para la Práctica Internacional de la Ingeniería, the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers and the United States Council for International Engineering Practice.

3.2 The REOs have recommended to the NAFTA free trade commission the standards, criteria, procedures and measures regarding the mutual recognition of engineers contained in the document "Mutual recognition of registered/licensed engineers by jurisdictions in Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States to facilitate mobility in accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement". At the same time the REOs have submitted the document to the jurisdictions within their purview to obtain its "timely implementation". The jurisdictions are (i) a state or territorial engineering licensing board in the United States of America, (ii) a provincial or territorial professional engineering association/ordre in Canada and (iii) the Dirección General de Profesiones de la Secretaría de Educación Pública and the state governments in the United Mexican States.

3.3 The MRD is organised into the following sections: (i) preamble; (ii) representative engineering organisations - identifies the REOs; (iii) definitions - defines key terms; (iv) engineering practice - defines the practice of engineering; (v) temporary licensing - "REOs agree to develop fair and equitable procedures for temporary licensing ... for a maximum of three years" or "for the duration of a specific project"; (vi) licensing - "nothing in this document shall preclude any individual from pursuing licensure in any jurisdiction in Canada, Mexico or the United States through the exercise of existing procedures. A host jurisdiction shall ensure that applications ... are dealt with in a timely manner". No requirements for residency for licensure; (vii) immigration and visa issues; (viii) principles of ethical practice; (ix) provisions related to discipline/enforcement; (x) continuing competence - calls for engineers to maintain competence and practise only in areas of expertise in which they are competent; (xi) dispute resolution - provides for interpretation of the provisions of the MRD regarding discipline and sanctions, on the request of any REO; (xii) mechanisms and procedures; (xiii) ratification and implementation; (xiv) periodic review and renewal - REOs to convene every two years to review the document; and (xv) withdrawal - provides for withdrawal from the provisions of the document.

3.4 Objections to the MRD have been expressed by at least one US jurisdiction (California board of registration for professional engineers and land surveyors) with the argument that engineers from Canada and Mexico would be allowed to practise in the US "without having demonstrated through examination that they have the competency to practise".

3.5 The MRD was provisionally accepted by the national council of examiners for engineering and surveying (NCEES) in August 1995, with the clause allowing for a two-year application of the MRD followed by further review and consideration.

4. NAFTA and the Surveying Profession

4.1 In June 1989 I represented the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) at the free trade forum held in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement of 1988. The forum was attended by more than 40 people from 17 different surveying and mapping institutions from the US and Canada as well as by representatives from the Canadian external affairs department and the US department of commerce. The forum concluded by adopting a resolution recommending that the Canadian Institute of Surveying and Mapping (now the Canadian Institute of Geomatics) and ACSM begin negotiations "for the purpose of reviewing the impact of the Agreement on the surveying and mapping community in Canada and the US, the review to include licensing standards; professional development; standards and specifications for surveying and mapping services and products; and conduct and ethics".

4.2 Since then there has been liaison between the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), a member organisation of ACSM, and the Canadian Council of Land Surveyors (CCLS), with representatives of each board attending meetings of the other. A formal ACSM/CCLS committee for the purpose of forming an agreement similar to the engineers’ MRD has been established. Attempts to include members of the Mexican surveying and mapping community have been unsuccessful to date; though it is the intent of the Canadian and US members that any agreement should be a tripartite one.

4.3 Although the committee is incomplete at this time and has yet to file a report of its deliberations, it appears that all elements of an agreement similar to the engineers’ MRD can be negotiated for surveying practice with the exception of property, or boundary, surveying. The differing structure of land titles in the various states and provinces, as well as the variety of educational and experience differences by statute and regulation of the many jurisdictions involved, have stood in the way of an agreement allowing surveyors to cross jurisdictional lines to perform property surveys other than through the usual processes of licensing by the several local authorities.


4.4 Property surveying is a professional service provided typically by small business proprietors working within 30 to 80 kilometres from their offices. Discussions with surveyor-proprietors along both the US/Canadian and the US/Mexican borders indicate little interest in cross-border trafficking to provide services in foreign environments. The same may not be true for other forms of surveying. Engineering surveys, positioning, photogrammetry, mapping, GIS and GPS work may offer attractive opportunities for cross-border work; but for these activities there does not seem to be much difficulty in forging an agreement similar to the engineers’ MRD. The major obstacle to such a tripartite agreement many be the difficulty of engaging responsible representatives of the surveying and mapping community of Mexico.

Experiences within European Union of Developing a Regime for the Liberalisation of Trade in Services
– with particular reference to the work of the Comité de Liaison des Géomètres Européens (CLGE)

by Ernst Höflinger

1. First Steps towards Liberalisation

1.1 The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) reacted early to the implications of the Treaty of Rome for the surveying profession. In 1972 a liaison committee was set up, originally as part of FIG Commission 1, to represent the liberal profession of surveying in the then European Economic Community (EEC). In May 1990, following a detailed hearing by the European Commission, it was decided that the CLGE should represent the interests of the entire geodetic surveying profession within the EEC.

1.2 The CLGE has directed its attention to those provisions of the Treaty of Rome which relate to rights of establishment and rights to practise, including the possible harmonisation of qualifications and the removal of impediments to the freedom to offer professional services.

1.3 Dr Arthur Allan (University College London) was commissioned by the CLGE to undertake a study of the surveying functions performed by the profession in each member country and of the arrangements that exist for professional education and training. His first report was published in 1980. Consequent on developments concerning the mutual recognition of diplomas, an up-dated and enlarged report was deemed essential and was published in 1989. Because of further developments, and in particular the growth of what is now the European Union (EU), a third edition was published in 1995.

1.4 The Allan report shows that the education and professional training of the surveyor are quite different in each country. The profession is so complex that a simple definition covering all its branches is virtually impossible. Many activities classed as surveying in some countries are parts of different professions in others. This situation makes valid comparisons across international frontiers difficult.

1.5 Of the 15 countries which currently comprise the EU, 13 have regulations in some respect and eight of these relate to cadastral surveying. It is therefore considered reasonable to require some form of national licensing.

1.6 The establishment of a common market was envisaged at the foundation of the EEC. Its realisation was initially delayed because of lack of confidence in the project; but was spurred on by the recession of the 1970s and 1980s and the competition that emerged from outside Europe. In December 1979, 23 European countries signed a convention on the recognition of higher education diplomas. The contracting countries declared their firm resolve to co-operate closely within the framework of their structures to accord mutual recognition to each other’s studies, certificates, diplomas and degrees. In 1993 the internal market was finally established, providing free movement of persons, goods, capital and services amongst 375 million people.

2. The Current Status of the Geodetic Surveying Profession

2.1 A geodetic surveyor is a professional person with academic qualifications and technical expertise whose responsibilities are to practise the science of measurement; to assemble and assess land- and geographic-related information; to use that information for the purpose of planning and implementing the efficient administration of land; and to instigate the advancement and development of such practices.

2.2 The initial provision of accurate and dependable surveys is an essential preliminary to virtually all economic development. This applies as much to the purchase or construction of domestic or commercial property as to the development of whole townships. A graduate geodetic surveying qualification or its equivalent is a pre-requisite to obtaining a licence or other right to practise.

2.3 The application of the Treaty of Rome to the geodetic surveying profession is a complex matter. The profession has developed along different lines in each country and the scope of its activities therefore varies widely, as do legal systems applied to the surveying and valuing of property. Educational patterns also vary, partly because areas of study differ according to the scope of the profession and partly because in some countries professional qualifications are conferred by the state while in others this function is entrusted to the profession. Yet another problem is that in some countries the liberal professions perform cadastral and landed property surveys; in others the work is not reserved exclusively to the private sector; and in some countries there is no cadastral system at all.

2.4 The European Secretariat for the Liberal Professions (SEPLIS) cites the OECD’s definition of "a liberal profession [which] is characterised essentially by moral and financial independence, a high level of education and practical training, and a code of conduct". SEPLIS concludes that the liberal professions should be a strictly regulated sector in which the public good and the client’s interests must be guaranteed; and that companies require as much protection as individuals regarding the quality of service offered by the liberal professions. In fact, the Treaty of Rome states that professional functions which are nationally regulated may not be performed by persons who are not authorised or licensed to undertake such functions.

3. The Comité de Liaison des Géomètres Européens

3.1 The aims of the CLGE are (i) to represent the geodetic surveying community to the European Commission; (ii) to represent the liberal profession of the geodetic surveying community in SEPLIS; (iii) to advise the Commission on proposals for directives concerning the profession; (iv) to assist in the facilitation of free movement of geodetic surveyors throughout the EU; and (v) to co-operate with allied international and regional professional bodies.

3.2 The CLGE contributed to the preparation of Directive 89/49/EEC - known as the first directive - which applies to any profession regulated in some way and whose qualification requires at least three years’ education at university or equivalent level. Professionals whose qualifications fall within the scope of this directive have the right to have their qualifications recognised in another EU country. Where the education and training of migrants differ substantially from those required by the host country, migrants have the choice between either an aptitude test or a period of supervised practice not exceeding three years.

3.3 With Directive 92/51/EEC - known as the second directive - the Commission determined that recognition would be based on the principle of mutual trust but that bridges would need to be established between the second and the first directive to cover qualifications which fall under the latter system in some countries (academic studies of at least three years) and under the former in others (studies of less than three years).

3.4 The CLGE originally drafted a special sectoral directive for geodetic surveyors. However, as the sectoral directive for architects took 18 years to negotiate, the CLGE abandoned its own draft and instead adapted for geodetic surveyors the general recognition expressed in both the first and second directives. This required it to carry out an overall investigation into the profession (the Allan report) and to prepare a profile of the European geodetic surveyor (the Profile report).

4. How to Proceed

4.1 The Allan report, the Profile report and an envisaged report on quality assurance will provide the bases from which to ensure best practice in geodetic surveying which is fundamental to economic development. The general public, from individual clients to corporations and governments, place clearly defined requirements on their professional geodetic surveyors: for example, they would expect that (i) the title "European geodetic surveyor" applied only to a person who was qualified and experienced to academic and professional standards approved and accepted by the European Commission and (ii) truly competitive tenders could be obtained for effectively identical services from anyone who was formally designated a "European geodetic surveyor".

4.2 National professional groups form the nucleus of the pan-European groups that, on the basis of national decisions, can determine mutually acceptable standards. This is one of the functions that could be undertaken by the CLGE. However, in view of the differences, including legal differences, in geodetic surveying in the EU countries, it would not be practical to aim for one standard academic professional programme. The first priority for the CLGE is therefore to define and accept criteria and a set of procedures for the individual certification of geodetic surveyors in the EU countries. Several members of the CLGE already have codes of conduct and other rules for their members which will be useful in setting up the norms.

5. A System of Mutual Recognition

5.1 The CLGE should encourage a European system of individual certification for all geodetic surveyors’ professional activities that are not regulated by national laws. In designing a system of mutual recognition of qualifications it would do well to examine the system already well established for European engineers.

5.2 The first step in developing the confidence of the general public must be to obtain approval of the requirements of a professional geodetic surveyor from the European Commission. Once mutually acceptable standards have been agreed and accepted, it will be necessary to create and administer a formal personal evidence of acceptability (PEA), a European register of membership and an appeals and review structure. The name of the body created to perform these functions might be the Federation of European Geodetic Surveyors (FEGS).

5.3 The PEA would be primarily intended to certify that an individual’s qualification conformed to the standards required in the host state. Consequently it would apply more to the migrant than to the itinerant surveyor. Because the qualification would have to be of a generally acceptable standard, it should not relate to specialisms such as cadastral or other licensed requirements which demand a comprehensive knowledge of state law, together with total fluency in the language of the country, in addition to the professional surveying qualification. It is equally important for each country to safeguard its position with regard to land tenure, land law, remembrement and other aspects of the geodetic surveying profession. Therefore the PEA would not certify qualifications per se; although it might well be argued that higher quality is more likely to be obtained from geodetic surveyors if that were the case.

5.4 Cross-border practice could be assisted considerably where geodetic surveyors were members of an FEGS; although they would still be subject ultimately to state laws and regulations. Membership of an FEGS should not detract from national institutional membership and advantages, as it would not normally be obtainable without such membership.

6. Running into Obstacles

6.1 The simultaneous existence of 15 different educational systems in EU member countries creates barriers against free movement. Different educational systems produce different professional quality.

6.2 Recognition of diplomas is carried out partly by the universities and partly by the competent authorities of the member countries. Except for the professions (architects and six others in the fields of law and medicine) that have their own sectoral directives, free movement and recognition of diplomas depend on the existence of national reports and descriptions of educational systems and professional bodies in the member countries.

6.3 Professional recognition is valued by the host country. If the qualification of a migrant does not correspond to that of the host country, the migrant has to acquire, partly or wholly, the missing education or qualification. The qualification of the migrant may be unknown in a host country where professional education is not regulated.

6.4 Due to Articles 55, 56 and 66 of the Treaty of Rome, freedom of movement and establishment do not apply to activities connected with the exercise of official authority. These are mostly activities connected with nationality, so they cannot be executed by foreigners. In some member countries cadastral surveying, even when executed by private practitioners, falls within this category.

7. Overcoming the Obstacles

7.1 In order to remove hindrances to freedom of movement and establishment de jure, sectoral directives for certain professions and general directives on diplomas for the other professions have been enacted. In order to overcome hindrances de facto, information on national systems of education and practice has to be distributed. This means, as a result of cross-border negotiations, producing reports such as the CLGE’s Allan and Profile reports.

7.2 The more individual countries can obtain acceptance of each other’s criteria, the closer they move to defining a common standard and the more rapid the process becomes. But a passport is also required, to provide proof of identity, to record personal inter-state movement and to request that the bearer be allowed to proceed with his professional business without let or hindrance. The PEA would obviate the need to produce diplomas of graduation. It is therefore essential that there should be a central registry to record and revise all the variable as well as the permanent conditions of the PEA. The registry would also arrange for the prevention of misuse of the PEA by accident or fraud.

7.3 It is intended that, by the year 2000, matters such as restrictions on foreign investment and ownership, residency requirements for local partners and directors, national licensing and qualification standards will all be harmonised and current national restrictions eased.

8. Outlook and Conclusions

8.1 Let’s take a look over the border of the European internal market. A new Commission white paper aims to help central and eastern European countries adapt their legislation to that of the internal market so that their economies can be integrated with those of the EU. Under the GATS Agreement of 1994 countries who are members of the World Trade Organisation are to bring the same kind of discipline to the provision of services as GATT has brought to the manufacturing industry. By the year 2000 world trade in professional services is due to be liberalised.

8.2 Inter- and intra-state co-operation and competition within prescribed criteria can promote higher professional standards and better marketing conditions. Within Europe the need for fully qualified geodetic surveyors will become more widely appreciated and their services will be used not only by the public and other professionals generally in Europe but also worldwide.

8.3 Freedom of establishment, the rights of the professional migrant and good cross-border practice will be determined only by negotiation. Enforcement can be achieved only once mutual overall acceptance has been publicly agreed.

8.4 There is no real alternative, in a sane and healthy society, to the regulation of professions, subject to their being clearly defined.

8.5 The education and training of a specialist group such as geodetic surveyors cannot be isolated from the vocational route it seeks to follow, nor from the activities of the allied professions with which it has to deal. Geodetic surveying is intertwined with civil engineering, architecture, property ownership and land administration.

El Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR)

by María Cristina Boldorini

1. MERCOSUR - the Present Situation

1.1 On 26 March 1991 the Presidents of the Federal Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Paraguay, the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and the Republic of Argentina signed the Treaty of Asunción which established the Mercado Comun del Sur - MERCOSUR. After only four years of its existence, and having completed the schedules of work for the transition period, MERCOSUR has achieved the status of a free trade area and customs union, following the December 1994 Ouro Preto Agreements. This represents outstanding progress in terms of integration, with MERCOSUR being the first customs union in the Americas. Since the Ouro Preto Protocol came into force on 15 December 1995 MERCOSUR has had a new institutional framework and international legal status and is in a position to negotiate agreements with third countries or blocks of countries.

1.2 In its initial stages MERCOSUR had to function against an extremely complex international background. Despite the crisis facing the developing countries caused by the withdrawal of international credit and the collapse of the Mexican economy, the coherence and realism of the Agreements signed by the four participating countries was such that they became crucial factors in countering the potentially negative effects of the crisis.

1.3 Within the framework of its strategy to open up to trade, MERCOSUR has adopted an active foreign policy by negotiating with other countries or groups of countries. Considerable work has been done within the Latin American Association for Integration (ALADI). An economic association agreement has been signed with Bolivia. During the sixth MERCOSUR Council held in August 1994 in Buenos Aires, the Presidents of the participating countries and the President of the Republic of Chile signed a declaration formally initiating negotiations for the conclusion of an economic association agreement providing for the establishment of a free trade area so as to create an enlarged economic zone in the southern cone of South America. A framework agreement covering both trade and non-trade aspects was agreed in the light of this declaration. Progress has also been made in negotiations with other ALADI member countries, with which free trade agreements are expected to be signed.

1.4 In parallel to this, and in a wider American context, the foundations were laid at the Miami summit of the Americas in December 1994 for establishing a continental free trade area from 2005. The meeting of trade ministers in Denver in June 1995 led to the formation of seven working groups which have begun preparations on a range of trade areas. The second ministerial meeting in Cartagena in May 1996 set up four new technical groups (government purchases, services, intellectual property rights and competition policies) and established new guidelines for the work of the existing groups.

1.5 In Madrid on 15 December 1995 the inter-regional framework co-operation Agreement between MERCOSUR and its participating countries and the European Union and its member countries was signed. Letters of reciprocation have been exchanged, providing for the provisional application of the Agreement until it comes into force, particularly in areas relating to trade and institutional frameworks. The Agreement was due to be formally initiated during the Argentinean Presidency of MERCOSUR, at the first meeting of the MERCOSUR - EU joint committee in Brussels on 11 and 12 June 1996.

1.6 As regards the future of the integration process, at the December 1995 meeting of MERCOSUR’s Common Market Council in Punta del Este the participating countries agreed to intensify their efforts to build the common market so as to achieve concrete progress by the year 2000. The MERCOSUR 2000 action programme was approved, defining the priority objectives and lines of action to be adopted by MERCOSUR in the next five years Rather than representing a policy commitment or establishing deadlines for fulfilment, this programme reflects the political will of the countries to strengthen integration.

2. Services in MERCOSUR

2.1 Services were covered by the provisions of the Treaty of Asunción, the instrument which established MERCOSUR. Article 1 of the Treaty instrument specifically refers to the fact that the common market involves the free movement of goods, services and factors of production. The free movement of services is thus a policy commitment of the Treaty and was therefore included in the Las Leñas Schedule, approved by the Common Market Council in June 1992. Working sub-group Nº 10 established an ad hoc services committee which began work in December 1992 and carried on throughout the transition period.

2.2 The four governments made their initial offer of services in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) at individual levels, before they had begun to co-ordinate their positions within MERCOSUR. There are accordingly differences in the magnitude and scope of the individual offers. The work of the ad hoc services committee has enabled a start to be made on exchanging opinions and information and, in particularly, extending knowledge of the different regulations in force in the services sector within the MERCOSUR countries.

2.3 MERCOSUR's initial commitment was to the establishment of a customs union whose most important trade policy instruments are the common external tariff and the minimum requirements necessary for its uniform application in the participating countries. The transition period was therefore mainly taken up with defining these instruments, which meant that services were not dealt with in the same depth. For the Republic of Argentina, however, services are a priority on the negotiating agenda; and this concern has been made known to the other members on various occasions. It was Argentina which promoted the formation of the new ad hoc services group during the customs union stage, an initiative embodied in Common Market Group (CMG) Resolution 20/95 of August 1995 which defined the structure of the executive body of MERCOSUR.

2.4 Within the MERCOSUR 2000 action programme services play a major role, since they inevitably represent the second freedom that must be granted for unrestricted movement within the region. The CMG also approved the agenda of the new ad hoc services group which made it responsible for preparing a draft framework agreement for trading in services in MERCOSUR, which must be consistent with the rules of the General Agreement on Trade in Services of the CMG. This legal instrument should be finalised in September 1996.

2.5 In carrying out its mandate the ad hoc group has so far held two meetings and specific progress has been made in the negotiations. Preparation of the future Protocol has begun, incorporating various aspects, particularly the principal of intra-zone most favoured nation treatment and fulfilment of a liberalisation programme compatible with Article V of the GATS within a period of ten years. In this liberalisation programme work will be based on positive lists, starting with a list of initial commitments that will include significant coverage of service sectors. These initial commitments will have their own liberalisation programmes which must begin on the date the Protocol comes into force. In order to achieve the free trade area the participating countries will also hold annual negotiating rounds in which new service sectors will gradually be incorporated into the liberalisation programme. The third meeting of the ad hoc group will make a start on the sectors likely to be included in the list of initial commitments.

2.6 None of the four participating countries has, as part of its initial offer within the framework of the GATS, consolidated any commitments relative to surveying services ("Professional services - others", according to the list of sectoral classification of services drawn up by the Secretary of the CMG).

Joint Professional Activities and their Organisation within MERCOSUR

by Eduardo Marquez

1. Introduction

1.1 As the signatory governments of MERCOSUR have subscribed to an integrationist policy whose development and consolidation depend on the activities of the different sectors of their communities, professionals in the technological area have, from the outset of the drafting of national agreements, been specifying activities - and we are pioneers in this area - for identifying and solving problems relevant to the free movement of labour and services.

1..2 The professional colleges and councils of Brazil and Argentina held their first meeting in February 1989 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, when they signed a document expressing (i) support for the process of integration; (ii) a commitment to a joint analysis of the MERCOSUR Protocols; (iii) the need to be the spokesmen for their profession and to participate in the work of the border committees; and (iv) an intention to promote periodic meetings to reconcile professional legislation and harmonise technical standards.

1.3 At a regional meeting held in March 1989 in Paso de los Libres, Argentina, specific questions relating to professional practice in engineering, architecture and surveying were discussed. An organisational meeting held in April 1989 in Buenos Aires established a committee responsible for centralising all work in the area of integration and particularly to act as an intermediary between the professional colleges and councils and the government authorities. Three working committees were also established to analyse the professional registers and to provide a permanent communication system.

1.4 The third bi-national meeting took place in August 1989 in São Paulo, Brazil. An agreement for the development of professional technical activity defined the basic conditions for professional practice in the Common Market. A committee was formed to manage and supervise activities pursuant to the agreement. Subsequently both Brazil and Argentina experienced economic crises and elections which temporarily suspended the development of relations and the bi-national meetings. But a useful movement towards institutional reinforcement was begun with the establishment in October 1989 of the Co-ordinating Committee of Professional Councils and Colleges of Engineering, Architecture and Surveying of the North-East/Coastal Region (Arg.) (COPIAR). Its basic objectives included the co-ordination of activity to ensure the participation of professionals and their respective organisations in the process of integration with neighbouring countries.

1.5 In April 1991, with MERCOSUR in place, work was resumed with vigour. The professional institutions of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina participated in a meeting in April 1991 in Porto Alegre. It suggested the creation of a sub-group within the framework of the Common Market Group to co-ordinate registration systems. It also agreed to a comparative review of professional legislation and to encourage the universities to study equivalence. Issues relating to a provisional register of professionals to facilitate the exchange of services were dealt with on a local member basis.

1.6 With the common objective of sharing the same duties and rights within a system of free movement of goods and services, and bearing in mind the complexity of and differences between the professional organisations of each country, the meeting in August 1991 in Córdoba, Argentina, created co-ordination mechanisms to guide the process of harmonising the relevant regulations of MERCOSUR. The meeting in November 1991 in Montevideo, Uruguay established the highest institutional body achieved so far - the Commission of Integration of Surveying, Agronomy, Architecture and Engineering for MERCOSUR (CIAAAIM - subsequently changed to CIAM).


2.1 The Montevideo Agreement established an executive committee of four members, one for each country adhering to the Treaty of Asunción. Its mission was (a) to organise the plenary meetings; (b) to set agenda; (c) to publicise details of meetings; (d) to contact organisations responsible for defining technological, management, environmental, control and materials classification standards, etc; (e) to liaise with universities in developing academic reciprocity agreements to facilitate qualification mechanisms for free professional practice; (f) to organise a four-monthly publication to be circulated in the four countries; and (g) to compile information for a manual of university qualifications.

2.2 Its role was defined as transitional, until such time as better agreements were defined. Proposals for each area included:

Equivalence: to propose an agreement to the corresponding authorities whereby a host country could accept the scope of the qualification awarded by the country of origin providing this did not exceed the responsibility granted by the host country.

Registration: professionals should (i) respect the regulations that govern activity in the host country and (ii) keep their qualifications up-to-date so as to conform to ethical and disciplinary regulations in their country of origin.

Control of registration: in countries where there are no colleges or councils measures would be introduced for exercising ethical and disciplinary control.

Situation of companies: companies that operate within the framework of MERCOSUR should respect the registration procedures of each country (and it was proposed to unify them).

2.3 Professional institutions which signed the Montevideo Agreement would submit measures for achieving its objectives to the corresponding authorities in their respective countries.

2.4 The following points were suggested for inclusion on the agenda of forthcoming meetings: (a) an analysis of universities with respect to differences in qualifications and curricula; (b) a study of differences in the regulation of professional practice and the drafting of proposals governing provisional professional practice; and (c) determining strategic objectives for CIAM.

3. Current Situation and Future Prospects

3.1 The establishment of COPIAR as a regional border institution and CIAM as an instrument for co-ordinating professional activity at the level of the four MERCOSUR signatory countries is enabling joint decisions to be reached on the basis of study and analysis of different social, economic, legal, cultural and technological situations. Some aspects of professional legislation and institutional organisation within the MERCOSUR countries should be considered in this light.

3.2 Brazil: the sector is highly organised in 24 Regional (State) councils (CREAs) and a Federal council (CONFEA), created by Federal law and with considerable social integration. The CREA/CONFEA system determines the categories of professional activities and establishes a schedule of fees which, although not binding, has been adopted by 75% of those registered. The working regulations specifically establish a technical responsibility note (ART). A register of companies is maintained declaring the technical capacity of their professional staff.

3.3 Uruguay: liberal activities are not subject to state control and the professional organisations are organised on a voluntary basis. The situation is similar in Paraguay, where there is no state control and qualifications are registered in local offices where professional work is carried out. There are voluntary professional organisations; but these receive little support.

3.4 In Argentina registration is undertaken by autonomous councils and colleges and there are significant differences in social integration and in legal and procedural frameworks. National professional organisations are determined by agreements between the legally established provincial bodies.

3.5 These asymmetries can be overcome, as is being shown by COPIAR and CIAM through their resolutions and their influence, encouraging and co-ordinating the practical adaptation of the various structures and fostering policies based on an awareness of the existence of MERCOSUR.

3.6 The task now is to specify and consolidate the involvement of professionals and their institutions in the rewarding and complex task of integration in a region which covers an area of 11,800,000 sq kms and has a population of 190 million people - equivalent to France, Germany and Italy together - with a GDP of around US$400,000 million and a substantial import and export trade. The way forward must inevitably involve complete harmonisation and the acceptance of professional responsibilities vis-a-vis the political decisions of the MERCOSUR countries as expressed in the Treaty of Asunción: (a) the free movement of goods, services and factors of production and the abolishment of customs duties and other restrictions; (b) the establishment of a common external tariff and the adoption of a common trade policy; (c) the co-ordination of macro-economic and sectoral policies; and (d) the commitment to harmonise legislation in the relevant areas. For the professional sector this means freedom to exercise professional activity and non-discrimination on grounds of nationality.

3.7 The necessary legal/institutional involvement must be brought about through professional incorporation into a working sub-group or through the creation of a specific sub-group or groups within the Common Market Group (CMG), established by the Treaty of Asunción and fully ratified in the Ouro Preto Protocol. This is recognised in CIAM in Resolution Nº 1 which states: "Henceforth to establish recognition of CIAM meetings as specialised meetings for harmonising the conditions of professional practice within the framework of item 7 of the Minutes of the 4th meeting of the Common Market Group...".

3.8 If, in the process of integration and the resulting liberalisation of professional services, we adopt a stance based on negative aspects of classical corporate structures or on false barriers to registration as a palliative for depressed domestic markets - or, even worse, on the disastrous consequences of an anarchic system of deregulation and the conduct of civil servants who, through ignorance or omission, hinder the creative participation of professionals, we will be giving way to difficulties which stand in the way of the as yet untrodden paths of joint and sustained development. However, if we recognise that integration is an integral part of economic, social and political development we will, with our intellectual armoury, be well equipped to meet the challenge of achieving competitive and distributive economies which depend on technological progress.

Responsibilities and Qualification of the Surveyor in Argentina

by Carlos Gillone

1. The Professional Responsibilities of the Qualified Surveyor

1.1 These are defined in Ministry of Education Resolution Nº 432 of 28 March 1987 and cover the determination of land and property including political and administrative jurisdictions; the execution of divisions and sub-divisions; cadastral surveys; land titling; planimetric, topographic, cartographic, hydrographic, photogrammetric and geodetic surveys, including interpretations of aerial and satellite images and the preparation of plans, maps and charts; land use classification and land use planning; property assessments and valuations; and arbitrations.

2. Professional Education

2.1 Syllabuses in 14 state and private universities offering degrees in surveying have been adapted to the above responsibilities. The following list of subjects (credits) taught in the Faculty of Engineering at Buenos Aires University gives a general idea of the syllabuses.

Obligatory subjects: mathematics applied to surveying; descriptive geometry; topographic drawing; compensation calculation; topography I - III; geodetics I - II; photogrammetry I - II; cartography; cadastres and valuations; surveying and professional practice; rural information; cadastral surveying I - II; and introduction to geographical information systems.

Optional subjects: transport; town and country planning; planned geometry; physical geometry and geology; electronic measurement; geodetics III; photo-interpretation; micro-geodetics; hydrographic surveys; underground surveys; hydraulics, agriculture and sanitation; cadastres; assessments and valuations; economics; cadastral surveying III; numerical analysis; introduction to environmental engineering; and language.

Syllabuses in other faculties differ in regard to specialised subjects and the length of the course. They lead to different qualifications; but all relate to the same responsibilities: geographical engineer, engineering surveyor and surveyor.

3. Validation of Foreign Qualifications

3.1 One approach would be to consider which subjects have to be studied to be able to practise each area of responsibilities and then to establish a table of corresponding credits. A more thorough approach would involve studying the syllabus for each subject to see which aspects matched which areas of practice. This would make it possible to get away from an overall comparison by qualification. There are significant differences between Brazilian, Uruguayan, Chilean, etc. surveyors so, in this way, a migrant could, according to his credits, practise particular activities in the host country. However, this system would only be valid as long as syllabuses remain unchanged - in which case the table of corresponding credits would have to be adjusted.

3.2 Authorisation or registration to practise the profession is granted in various ways. Legally established provincial surveying councils grant registration and oversee ethical conduct. They do not assess knowledge. Registration entitles the surveyor to practise in all areas of responsibility and is automatically renewed on payment of a quarterly or half-yearly fee. Legally established multidisciplinary collegial associations of engineers, architects and surveyors are also responsible for registration. Professional surveying councils, also established by law, are responsible for professional rather than legal aspects of practice. They form part of the Permanent Consultative Committee on the Practice of Surveying (COPEA).

3.3 This is satisfactory for the present; but for the future minimum and maximum syllabuses must be agreed, considering the MERCOSUR countries as a geographic whole. Inevitably there will be differences in the legal subjects: for example, Argentina attaches great importance to its definition of measurement. Other matters to be addressed will include immigration, residence, registration, provisional contributions and professional ethics.

3.4 Resolution Nº 6 adopted by the Commission for the Integration of Surveying, Agronomy, Architecture and Engineering for MERCOSUR (CIAM) proposed that commissions made up of specialised professionals should define equivalence between qualifications for the different professions represented within CIAM and submit their findings, via CIAM’s executive committee, to the corresponding government bodies.

3.5 Resolution Nº 9 established five groups, including one for surveyors, to analyse problems of professional practice. The number of groups was expanded to 12 by Resolution Nº 18. Resolution Nº 19 made provision for the creation of sub-groups, thereby facilitating the participation of specialists from other technological areas.

3.6 Resolution Nº 12 aimed to progress studies leading to the harmonisation of professional practice, by promoting the regulation of university professions in the scientific and technical area; recommending the adoption of national legislation which delegated to the professional organisations the management and control of professional registration and the monitoring of compliance with standards of ethics; and in so doing recognising the importance of fostering respect for ethical duties and co-ordinating the interests of professionals, their clients and the communities they serve.

3.7 To date no reciprocity in exercising the practice of the surveying profession has been established between the MERCOSUR countries. It is therefore essential to accelerate what has been proposed in resolutions regarding the working commissions of equivalent professions.

Surveying in Brazil

by Miguel Prieto

1. Professional Legislation

1.1 Specific reference to surveyors in legal documents in Brazil date back to 1880. Regulation and control of the surveying profession are now subject to legislation (Federal Law 5,194 of 1966) and are vested in the Federal council of engineering, architecture and agronomy and the regional councils (one per state) of engineering, architecture and agronomy, referred to as the CONFEA/CREA system.

1.2 The regional councils comprise representatives appointed by the teaching and professional institutions on honorary three year mandates. Specific matters in the various subject areas are dealt with by special councils of representatives from the same subject area. The special councils are responsible for keeping the powers granted to them under review; overseeing the professions; applying codes of ethics; examining breaches of legislation: maintaining registers of companies and the technical responsibility notes; and registering lists of professional fees. There are special councils for surveying on the regional councils of the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Matto Grosso do Sul, Piauí and Bahia.

2.   The Teaching of Surveying

2.1 The surveying course in Brazil, applicants for which must have completed the 1st and 2nd levels of schooling (11 years), was established in 1957. Up to that date surveying was only taught at intermediate level. Since then schools have been set up in Araraquara and Pirassununga in São Paulo, Viçosa and Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais, Salvador in Bahia, Campo Grande in Matto Grosso do Sul, Teresina in Piauí and Criciúma in Santa Catarina. The schools in Teresina and Viçosa are part of the Federal universities; the others are private.

2.2 At present the minimum curriculum involves 3,600 contact hours, plus an obligatory supervised training period of five years, arranged as follows:

1,125 contact hours of basic subjects including mathematics, physics, chemistry, mechanics, data processing, drawing, electricity, materials resistance and elements of transport.

240 contact hours of general subjects including humanities and social sciences, economics, administration and environmental sciences.

390 contact hours of general professional subjects including hydrometry and bathymetry, soil mechanics, hydrology, hydraulics, construction materials, sanitation, transport and irrigation and drainage.

1,140 contact hours of specific professional subjects including topography, special topography, geodetics, astronomy, photogrammetry and photo-identification, cartography, assessments and reports, land division, cadastral surveys and roads.

705 contact hours of supplementary subjects including town planning and city layout, adjustment of observations, topographic drawing, cadastral surveying, scientific methodology, legislation and professional ethics, remote sensing and photo-interpretation, geology and geomorphology and an interdisciplinary graduation project.

2.3 By means of these well-structured courses that form part of the full engineering courses surveyors are equipped to plan, supervise and execute aerial photogrammetry, bathymetry, geodetic surveys, topography, parcelisation of urban and rural land, cadastres, property valuation, road surveys, water capture and supply surveys, drainage and irrigation surveys, cadastral surveys and surveys for sanitation systems; and to prepare reports and assessments. They work in the private and the public sectors and in specialist companies.

3. The Labour Market

3.1 Recent changes in Brazil's economy have brought greater political and economic stability, with a considerable fall in inflation. At the same time the way in which the public sector operates has changed. The Estado Tocador de Obras has been superseded by an executive authority which began by granting concessions for the generation, exploration and maintenance of road, rail, hydroelectric and other large infrastructure work. Now it is also in a position to plan such work, as the rules are becoming clear and established. The private sector is more advanced. Major companies are coming into the country and those already established have increased their investment and expanded their resources, stimulating the economy and generating more opportunities for work in all sectors.

3.2 MERCOSUR will require its member countries and their allies to participate in the achievement of its objectives. The execution of infrastructure work over a large area of South America is one of the crucial factors for the success of this enormous plan. The integration of the provision of services by professionals in the MERCOSUR countries is being dealt with by the Commission of Integration of Surveying, Agronomy, Architecture and Engineering for MERCOSUR (CIAM).

3.3 A country as huge as Brazil, with a land area of over 8,000,000 sq kms, requires information on the resources it contains, where they are located and how they should be exploited so that future generations have a healthy country in all respects. It also requires appropriate mechanisms for planning its space and visualising and quantifying the best means to control harmonious development in its huge and different regions. Surveying is essential for identifying and solving some of the country's basic problems involving the public authorities and including (i) socio-economic planning, with systematic mapping of the territory; (ii) delimiting borders; (iii) delimiting indigenous reservations; (iv) planning and establishing settlements and agrarian reform systems; (v) sanitation and irrigation plans and works; (vi) hydro-electric projects and works, telecommunications and town planning; (vii) river, sea, rail, road and air transport route plans and works; and (viii) plans with an impact on the environment, land occupation and the protection of water sources.

3.4 New projects open up huge fields of work. Major works of infrastructure, however, are not the only area in which the surveyor can act. Throughout the country there are countless land divisions and other property developments which can be carried out not only by companies but also by liberal professionals. Industry requires specialised topography for precision settings and as-built surveys. The adaptation of title deeds to standards enabling them to be used as effective guarantees for loans in the financial market is another potential area of work. At present they do not come up to these standards since the overwhelming majority do not relate to the Brazilian geodetic system but consist of an infinite number of deeds with descriptions made on the basis of isolated polygons and arbitrary systems. These are the best cases: some are not even covered by geometric description by azimuths and distances in systems of arbitrary co-ordinates. One of the steps which must be taken to resolve this problem is the establishment of a sworn surveyor for each district.

3.5 Geoprocessing is a significant field of work for surveyors, bearing in mind that each municipality of over 100,000 inhabitants is a potential client and that smaller municipalities can merge to form regional geoprocessing companies. This is an area which is not only expanding but which will, when consolidated, represent an inexhaustible source of survey work in sectors such as transport, power distribution, water and sewerage distribution, and paper and cellulose manufacture.

3.6 Surveyors work in private companies which specialise in consultancy and engineering projects and in companies involved in construction, mining, reforestation, land division and consolidation, topography, and aerial photogrammetry. Other areas of the private sector requiring the support of surveyors include mining, planned agriculture (particularly hemp cultivation and citriculture), civil engineering and industrial assembly. Surveyors are increasingly to be found in maintenance and quality control in industry. They act as expert witnesses and assistants in both the lower and the higher courts.

3.7 There are no accurate statistics on the labour market for surveyors; but available data suggest that very few are unemployed, reflecting the healthy labour market for these professionals.

Surveying in Paraguay

by Rodolfo P Cácares González

1. History and Training of Surveyors

1.1 The war of the Triple Alliance (1870) left the defeated Paraguay in a disastrous economic situation. In order to survive and develop, the country had to resort to the sale of state-owned land, its only asset. Various official committees were sent to Buenos Aires and Europe to negotiate the sale of land, which had to be identified and marked out before sales were finalised. Because surveyors were in short supply in Paraguay, the purchasers brought their own surveyors to do the work. These foreign professionals, who were ignorant not only of the language but also of the terrain, needed local assistants - most of whom made the most of their experience to become empirical surveyors to add to the numbers of foreign surveyors and Paraguyans trained abroad, particularly in Argentina.

1.2 The national department of engineers, the embryo Ministry of Public Works, was created by a Law dated 18 August 1888. Article 3 stated that "the qualification of public surveyor shall be awarded by the department and all qualifications awarded abroad shall be validated by means of examinations". Article 8 stipulated that "surveyors who are currently practising shall apply to the department within six months for their qualifications to be reviewed. Those who fail to comply with this provision shall be suspended until they comply with the aforesaid requirements". Article 7 of the Law made provision for drawing up regulations which would define surveyors’ working methods and responsibilities.

1.3 A Decree dated 12 July 1910 stated that "Measurement, division and the marking of boundaries of land shall be performed by civil engineers and qualified surveyors"; though Article 3 excludes the measurement of land of less than 700 ha outside the capital, which work could be done by unqualified surveyors.

1.4 The National University of Asunción was established in 1889. A Decree passed in 1921 created the school of surveying. In 1926 the school was incorporated into the newly-formed faculty of physical sciences and mathematics, the teaching staff of which was basically made up of white Russian professors who had fled the Bolshevik revolution and who were made responsible for training the new professional public surveyors. The first of these probably graduated around 1927 or 1928, though there are no records of this.

1.5 University activity was interrupted between 1932 and 1936 because of the Chaco war against Bolivia. The few surveyors and survey students of the time played a significant role in the conflict, as cartographers in a totally unknown region.

1.6 Surveyors started to graduate regularly from 1938. Unfortunately for the profession, the faculty reorganised its syllabuses and created a course for topographers in 1955 which abolished the syllabus for public surveyors. The curriculum and responsibilities defined for the topographer were virtually identical to those for the public surveyor; though the intention was probably to create assistants for civil engineers, preferably for work connected with highways. Topographers were thus the somewhat less prestigious successors to surveyors: they were authorised to perform cadastral or private surveys (as were civil engineers) and without doubt the topography course became a stepping stone towards the civil engineering profession.

1.7 This syllabus has remained virtually unaltered ever since so that, in addition to changing the name of the qualification awarded, it is also essential to up-date the curriculum by incorporating photogrammetry, land registration, cartography, satellite geodesy and geographical information systems, and also to intensify the study of the cadastral component of surveying and valuations.

1.8 The other approach to training professional surveyors is via the Institute of Geographical Sciences. This Institute, accountable to the Vice-Chancellor’s office of the National University, was created in 1979 at the behest of the military geographic institution, now the department of military geography. The qualifications awarded are graduate in geographical sciences after four years of study and engineer in geographical sciences after six years. The subject structure is a little cumbersome, since it covers the complete field of geographical sciences which is difficult to apply in liberal professional practice. Graduates of this Institute are authorised to perform cadastral and private surveys.

1.9 The (private) Catholic University of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción also ran a degree in topography with a well-balanced syllabus; but it failed to attract many students and had to be discontinued. The only technical school in the country is run in the department of military geography, which awards the degree of bachelor of geography. Various public institutions run courses for assistant topographers or refresher courses for topographers from time to time.

2. The Practice of Surveying

2.1 The following professionals are authorised to perform private, administrative or cadastral surveys: (a) public surveyors (graduates of the National University, pre-1955 syllabus); (b) topographers (graduates of the National University and the Catholic University); (c) civil engineers; (d) graduates in geographical sciences; (e) engineers in geographical sciences; and (f) graduates of foreign universities with equivalent qualifications and prior validation. The responsibilities of holders of some of these qualifications are not clearly defined and it is not possible to monitor whether they perform work which falls within their area of ability. Since the professional associations have no supervisory role and since some survey work is not subject to administrative approval, and also because there is a free contractual relationship between the client and the professional, there will always be those who seek more favourable prices and who will be unprotected against unscrupulous or bogus professionals.

2.2 This does not mean there is no control over professional practice. The state has always retained this legal authority; although its administration in this area is not efficient. Professionals have as yet not managed to have such authority delegated to professional associations or councils because of Parliament’s reluctance to create them by law.

2.3 Among the legal provisions governing the activity of surveyors the 1910 Decree is still in force. Essentially it applies the code of civil procedure to the judgement of measurement, division and boundary marking. Its provisions also apply to administrative surveys of state land for purchase by private individuals. Only these cadastral and administrative surveys are supervised, approved and recorded by a national authority - the department of surveying and geodesy of the Ministry of Public Works.

2.4 Special or private surveys are carried out through agreement between the land owner and the professional. If such work is performed on plots of land located in urban areas, it is supervised and approved by the corresponding municipal authority and must comply with the provisions of municipal framework Law Nº 1294/87 relating to land divisions or development. If the property is not located in an urban area the professional survey of the part to be marked off is referred to a public notary who will organise the purchase and sale by transcribing the surveyor’s report. All surveying work, whether cadastral, administrative or private, is referred to the national land registry department to be registered and given a current land registration account number, through either the legal or municipal authorities or public notaries. The department is responsible only for keeping records and not for the registration and technical supervision of professional practice.

2.5 Paraguay is a unitary republic and the whole national administration is concentrated in the capital, Asunción. Therefore the State, via the Ministry of Public Works, controls registration. Law Nº 976/64 regulates the practice of the professions of engineer, architect and surveyor or topographer and clearly establishes that they may only be practised by people with authorised titles awarded by domestic universities or with titles awarded by foreign universities and validated by the National University. The same Law establishes a professional register under the supervision of the Ministry. Professionals must be registered annually and a certificate issued, failing which municipal authorities cannot grant the municipal registration certificate. The Law also stipulates that people who practise any of these professions without having a valid registered title or who lay false claim to the title may be subject to penalties laid down in the penal code. This is the area in which the Ministry does not exercise its supervisory capacity to the full. The registration of the surveyor depends only on verification of the cadastral or administrative surveys for which the Ministry is compulsorily responsible. Many municipalities, public notaries and land registration offices are ignorant of the law or are simply unwilling to enforce it.

2.6 Among its objectives the Association of Surveyors of Paraguay has given priority to the creation of a professional college of surveying whose authority would include supervision of registration. The Association is working within a multi-sectoral area of associations of university professionals for the approval of a framework law of association, which was unfortunately turned down by Parliament in November 1995. While not abandoning the concept of a law of association, the idea of the Ministry of Public Works delegating its authority to register surveyors, engineers and architects to their respective professions is being explored with the Ministry and with the engineers and architects associations. The negotiations are proving fruitful and the Ministry in particular is interested because it lacks the resources to carry out what for it is an unrewarding task. At the same time provincial municipalities, public notaries and land registration offices are being urged to demand that professionals with whose work they deal should be registered.

2.7 As the MERCOSUR Treaty prescribes the free movement of services, it is essential for surveyors in Paraguay to obtain the authority to administer registration so as to achieve correct supervision of national professionals and those from the other MERCOSUR countries. The Association of Surveyors of Paraguay is working towards establishing the conditions and rules of integration through its membership of the Commission of Integration of Surveying, Agronomy, Architecture and Engineering for MERCOSR (CIAM).

3. Social Security, Fees and Tax Laws

3.1 Surveying is an independent liberal profession which the surveyor generally practises in person or as a consultant, sometimes with the assistance of temporary or permanent collaborators in fieldwork, office administration and procedural tasks. In common with other professionals, surveyors who employ staff are obliged to pay social security contributions for them; and in this case some surveyors also decide to pay contributions for themselves to the Institute for Social Security which provides health and pension cover. Registration and payment of these contributions is a condition for the submission of tenders. Employers are responsible for paying the contributions of any surveyors that they employ.

3.2 There is no legislation which establishes levels of professional fees. The only information available comes from the profession’s own surveys of fees and costs for various work. The surveyor negotiates the price, form of payment and scope of work to be carried out with the client. In some cases a private contract is signed or a commitment is established by exchanging notes for the commissioning, offer and acceptance of work. These documents are valid in legal actions.

3.3 Paraguay does not have personal income tax. Liberal professionals pay value added tax (currently 10% of the invoice value). It is also a condition for submitting tenders that bidders are registered with the tax authorities and that their tax payments are up-to-date.

3.4 If surveyors employ staff they are obliged to register them with the Department of Labour.

4. Conclusion

4.1 Paraguay emerged at the end of the 1980s from a long period of authoritarian government. The country’s institutions and people are still adapting to the new times and the profession of surveying requires the efforts of all of its members if it is to achieve the reforms necessary in territorial organisation.

Surveying in Uruguay: Regulation and Professional Training

by Nelma Bénia Llano

1. The Development of Professional Regulation

1.1 People began to populate the countryside in Uruguay in the mid-XVIII century, during the rule of the Spanish crown which issued regulations fostering the settlement of people in the countryside. It was therefore essential to mark out the land: geographical features were no longer sufficient reference points. Pilots, qualified to plot courses and to correct drifting brought about by winds and currents (based on measuring their position from the stars), were responsible for the measuring and demarcations. They were active from the mid-XVIII to the mid-XIX century and called themselves surveyors or pilot surveyors - though some merely called themselves pilots.

1.2 In 1820 Uruguay was invaded by the Portuguese. The regulations of the time made the surveyor subordinate to the Juez de Mensura (the judge of measurement), who had to check the instruments used by the surveyor and the data obtained in fieldwork.

1.3 Between 1825 and 1828 Uruguay formed part of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, when professional practice was regulated by the Argentinean Law of Emphyteusis. This stipulated that, to practise surveying, it was necessary to pass an examination and to be registered. The surveyor was furthermore considered to be akin to a physician and a Juez de Mensura, whose work could only be verified by his peers. Despite the fact that the Eastern Province (now Uruguay) became independent in 1828, the same regulations continued to govern professional activity as normal.

1.4 Surveying is the oldest profession in Uruguay and the first technical profession to have been subjected to controlled training. Its importance led to its regulation in 1831 when Uruguay began to organise itself politically as a free nation. The duties of the national topographic commission, founded in December 1831, included "examining, registering and supervising authorised surveyors". They were allowed 40 days to register, when they were allotted a number, thus giving rise to the title "numbered surveyor". Those applying for the qualification subsequently had to take an examination in topography, geodetics and descriptive drawing.

1.5 The law of Emphyteusis was ratified in Uruguay in May 1833 and granted the surveyor the powers of a professional and Juez de Mensura. It regulated the activity of surveyors until it was repealed in 1856.

1.6 The department of public works was created in 1864 and included the topographic commission which was granted legal powers to register surveyors. In 1878 the department drafted instructions for public surveyors. With the establishment of the faculty of mathematics within the University of the Republic in 1885, the University became responsible for authorisation, as examinations to obtain the qualification of public surveyor had to be awarded or verified by the University. However, the work of the surveyor continued to be regulated by government. The creation of the national department of engineers in 1892 accordingly made it mandatory to submit a copy of all surveys carried out, the ultimate objective of this rule being to produce the map of the country.

1.7 In 1908 legislation stipulated that only acting surveyors (with a title issued or verified by the University of the Republic) could submit plans for measurement. Following the abolition of the department of engineers in 1912 and the creation of the department of topography of the Ministry of Public Works, plans were registered in this department in Montevideo while outside the capital they were registered in the regional technical offices.

1.8 In 1940 the government unified the regulations in force and enacted a Decree for the comparison of plans. This made the general department of valuations (now the general department of national cadastral surveys and administration of public buildings) responsible for registering the signature of all surveyors who practised or wished to practise in the country and for comparing and registering the measurement plans of buildings anywhere in the Republic. The Decree also regulates the content and form of presentation of plans and the number of copies required.

1.9 In 1941 a Decree was issued whereby municipal approval was required for the division of land situated in urban and suburban areas, failing which the general department of valuations would not register the plan. This brought with it the still valid requirement to register the signature in all municipalities in which it is intended to submit plans for approval.

1.10 Subsequent laws regulating different areas of national activity make the surveyor and the surveying engineer responsible for carrying out particular tasks: for example, the 1982 mining code exclusively authorises surveying engineers to draw up sketches and plans necessary for carrying out mining work. However, although much professional practice is regulated, huge areas are still not covered by the law. There is no institution in Uruguay which defines professional responsibilities, supervises registration or lays down a code of ethics and subsequently monitors compliance. To date, owing to the limited number of professionals in Uruguay (reflecting its size), no great problems have arisen. However, freedom to provide professional services in the MERCOSUR region could give rise to difficulties that will have to be overcome by measures different from those adopted so far.

2. Professional Training

2.1 The University of the Republic was established by Decree in 1838 and inaugurated in 1849. Within the faculty of mathematics two-year courses for surveyors and three-year courses for geographic engineers started in 1888. Subsequently the faculty of mathematics expanded into separate faculties of engineering and architecture and all titles awarded by the former include the word "engineer".

2.2 Professional training in the area of surveying has also varied. The initial two-year course led to the title of surveyor. Later, as the profession developed both nationally and internationally, the length and breadth of the course expanded and the title of the final award also changed. The journey from the first geographic engineers and surveyors to to-day’s surveying engineers has been both long and enriching.

2.3 In 1947 the format of the surveying course was changed and its duration extended to three years to accommodate the field studies organised on an annual basis by the faculty. A four-year course was introduced in 1969 and revised in 1974. Finally, in 1992 the current course was introduced, increasing the period of studies to five years.

2.4 The present course is organised differently from that traditionally followed by surveyors. It is structured in four parts: basic studies, specific studies, optional studies, and activities. An innovative feature of this format is that the basic studies are common to all courses within the faculty of engineering. Another distinguishing characteristic is the concept of measuring progress by means of credits. Each time a student completes a part of the course he receives the appropriate number of credits. A minimum of 470 credits, which correspond to an average of 47 hours per week per semester over the five-year period, is required for the award of a professional title.

2.5 The components of the course, and the minimum number of credits which each carries, is as follows.

Basic studies (150): mathematics (85), physics (30), technology and society (20), computer studies (15).

Specific studies (230): theory of observations (10), topography (60), geodesy (50), cadastral surveying (30), valuation (22), photogrammetry (18), rural and urban parcelisation (20), GIS and cadastres (10), complementary techniques (18).

Optional studies (60): topography IV (30), cadastral surveying III (15), valuation II (15), physical and satellite geodesy (30).

Activities (22): workshop (10), project (12).

The minimum total of 470 credits must include a minimum of 60 credits in optional studies.

2.6 This academic programme leads to the award of a first degree. The institute of surveying within the faculty of engineering is studying the structure of a post-graduate course, but this project is still at an early stage. For several years the institute has organised professional refresher courses, providing theoretical and practical training in new techniques and technologies. It is thus providing the on-going education that is a prerequisite of professional practice in to-day’s global world.

2.7 A second, private, university was established in the early 1980s but to date it offers no courses relevant to the education of surveyors: these are provided exclusively within the faculty of engineering of the University of the Republic.

3. Recognition of Academic and Professional Qualifications

3.1 The autonomy of the University of the Republic is recognised by Uruguay’s constitution. Under the terms of Law Nº 12.549 of 15 October 1958 the University is authorised to recognise academic and professional qualifications which entitle their holders to practise their profession. When the University is asked to validate or recognise titles awarded by foreign universities, a ratification commission undertakes a detailed examination of the content and duration of the relevant course and submits a report to the faculty council. This council in turn makes its views known to the central directing council of the University to enable it to reach a decision.

3.2 The whole of this process is regulated by a ratification decree whose main provisions are as follows.

The University regulations expressly allow for the ratification of foreign titles related to the exercise of the liberal professions in Uruguay.

Ratification may only be concerned with (a) titles, (b) of foreign origin, (c) giving legal or other appropriate entitlement to perform an activity, (d) for the exercise of the liberal professions and (e) distinct professions, though related to those whose qualifications are the titles awarded by the University of the Republic.

Ratification is concerned with similarities between liberal professions, not between the content of two or more courses (from the same or different faculties).

To this end related professions are defined as those forming part of the same family or group, by virtue of their basic common training, even if there are differences in aspects of practice.

Furthermore, there must be reasonable equivalence in the organisation and level of their respective (tertiary) studies.

Furthermore, it is recommended that the names of ratified titles be adapted, to obviate confusion and to prevent their being used in competition with related titles awarded by the appropriate faculty of the University.


Working towards Liberalisation in Surveying Services
Published in English

Published by The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), FIG Bureau 1996–1999. 
ISSN: 1018-6530, ISBN: 0-85406-791-4, September 1996, London, UK.

Printed copies can be ordered from:
FIG Office, Kalvebod Brygge 31-33, DK-1780 Copenhagen V, DENMARK, 
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