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GATS a win/win for New Zealand education

GATS a win/win for New Zealand education

"The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is a win/win situation for New Zealand education. It gives us the chance to bring the best educational ideas to New Zealand and to share our ideas overseas," according to Education Forum policy adviser Norman LaRocque.

Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton has recently released a consultation document about New Zealand's approach to GATS negotiations on trade in services. The negotiations, being carried out by the World Trade Organisation, include discussion on services including education.

Mr LaRocque said New Zealand's openness to trade in education had resulted in much new investment, rapidly increasing foreign exchange earnings and innovative new ideas from overseas.

"New Zealanders deserve access to world-class education, just as they have access to world-class goods and services across a whole range of areas. Why should education be any different?

"The GATS is not a magic wand but it helps to increase trade by improving certainty about trade in services. Countries can commit to as much or as little free trade as they wish but once they do that, investments can be safely made based upon those policies."

International student enrolments have increased rapidly within New Zealand and education providers will have to start looking at offshore provision to continue their growth rates. GATS would help facilitate this.

"The GATS provides a useful framework for our exporters to operate within, giving them some assurance about the regulation that they will face as they enter new markets."

Mr LaRocque said concerns that all education would be privatised through the GATS were unfounded.

"The government has been clear that it does not intend to privatise education through the GATS and only private education is affected."

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