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Govt. must not bow to pressure over GATS

Govt. must not bow to pressure over GATS

The Government must advance New Zealand's interests in the current WTO negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services, and not kowtow to its union friends, says National's Trade spokesperson, Lockwood Smith.

"It's clear the unions want to lock New Zealand out of increasing its participation in the most rapidly expanding sector of global trade, trade in services.

"The CTU and the Greens should look at what's happened to the Arab world in the last 20 years, as it's been largely divorced from the trade liberalisation of, first the GATT, and more recently the WTO.

"In 1980 the Muslim countries of the Middle East controlled 13% of world exports and received almost 5% of direct investment. Today the figures are barely 3% of world exports and 1.5% of investment. This has been matched by a relative decline in the standard of living of the average person.

"Since the GATS agreement was concluded in 1994, New Zealand's export income from the export of services has risen 86%, a far greater increase than the 62% increase in merchandise exports over the same time period. Income from the export of education services has increased even more rapidly - 152% just since 1997."

Dr Smith says the service industries represent one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the global economy. Despite that, access to international service markets remains quite restricted in many areas.

"If the Government bows to pressure from its union friends, the Green Party and the Alliance, New Zealand will miss a huge opportunity to advance our national interests and raise the standard of living of all New Zealanders," says Dr Smith.

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