FIG PUBLICATION NO. 14
Working towards Liberalisation in
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
The North American Free Trade Agrement (NAFTA) -
its application to the surveying profession
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
by Robert W Foster,
Vice-President (USA), FIG
by Ernst Höflinger, immediate past chairman, FIG
Commission 3 and Austrian delegate to the CLGE
El Mercado Comun del Sur (MERCOSUR)
Joint Professional Activities
and their Organisation within MERCOSUR
by María Cristina Boldorini, Minister responsible for MERCOSUR, Government
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
Surveying in Brazil
by Carlos Gillone, President, Federación
Argentina de Agrimensores
by Miguel Prieto,
President, Federação Nacional dos Engenheiros Agrimensores, Brazil
Surveying in Paraguay
Surveying in Uruguay: Regulation and Professional
by Rodolfo P
Cáceres González, President, Asociación de Agrimensores del Paraguay
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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).
by Eduardo Marquez
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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;
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
4.1 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
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
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
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
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
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.