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Anti-GATS Campaigners - Afraid of the Dark

Anti-GATS Campaigners - Afraid of the Dark

The TLN is right behind Government moves to liberalise international trade in services, Executive Director, Suse Reynolds, said today following the release of the Government's consultation process. Responding to the Government's critics Reynolds said "there are no monsters in the dark - freeing up trade in services is about benefits, not bogeymen".

"Anti-GATS campaigners are raising concerns about the GATS that, as far as I can see, are purely hypothetical.

"By contrast the benefits of foreign competition in the services sector are real. Compare how quickly a cheque is cleared in our banking system to how long it took fifteen years ago, look at how cheap it is to talk for an hour to your sister in the UK and think about how little of your pay packet it now takes to fly between Wellington and Christchurch."

Critics have directed some of their most strident rhetoric at the threat to New Zealand's education system.

"I can't believe that what anti-GATS campaigners are saying is that they want to deny our children the ability to choose the best quality education available," said Reynolds.

"Allowing foreign education providers into New Zealand has not meant education standards have gone into an exorable decline. For a start our GATS commitments only cover private education. But furthermore, surely foreign providers not only meet, but provide higher standards, than the already high standards of our public education system, to attract students. Most crucially though, foreign providers are subject to the same laws, regulations and standards that New Zealand educators have to meet." New Zealanders are benefiting to the tune of over a half a billion dollars a year from the last international trade round which removed barriers to trade in goods.

"There is no reason we shouldn't benefit as much, if not more, from the removal of barriers to trading services. While half a billion dollars might sound like a big empty number, the reality is that every New Zealander is wealthier," Reynolds concluded.

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