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GATS will help maximise education industry growth

GATS will help maximise education industry growth

The inclusion of education in GATS will help maximise the potential of New Zealand's rapidly growing export education industry, according to Norman LaRocque, Education Forum policy advisor.

Today, March 31, is the World Trade Organisation's deadline for countries to make offers to open up service sectors in accordance with the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

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

Last year, export education contributed $1.7 billion to the New Zealand economy.

"We're a small trading country and have always depended upon access to bigger markets for our prosperity and well-being. The GATS will provide the certainty that our export education organisations need to protect their investments and will help formalise arrangements for access to good education opportunities," Mr LaRocque said.

Education was one of the least committed of any of the services under GATS consideration. The government's commitment would be limited to private education. The government would still be able to set regulations around private and public education.

Foreign providers competing with New Zealand education providers is not necessarily a bad thing, Mr LaRocque said.

"If they bring top-class, world-leading education, our children are the ones who will benefit and surely that is something we should all welcome.

"The government took an important first step with its GATS discussion document released earlier this year. Now it needs to take the next step and move forward with its proposal."

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