The Securities and Exchange Commission is forging ahead with plans for mutual recognition of securities firms and regulators overseas, which would give U.S. investors direct access to foreign markets and foreign broker-dealers.

The SEC says it is exploring initial agreements with one or more foreign regulatory counterparts, based on a “comparability assessment” by the SEC and the foreign authority of each other’s regulatory regimes.

The Commission is also developing a framework to allow mutual recognition in jurisdictions where multiple regulators operate under a common legal umbrella, such as Canada—with its provincial regulators—or the European Union.

The SEC plans to propose reforms to ...