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Ministers Asked to Reject WTO Draft on GATS

Ministers Asked to Reject WTO Draft on GATS

John Minto National Chairperson

QPEC has this evening sent a message to Prime Minister Helen Clark, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton and Education Minister Trevor Mallard asking the government to reject the draft WTO Ministerial agreement being considered for release at the Cancun negotiations.

Paragraph 6 of the draft agreement concerns the GATS negotiations which have the aim of opening up all service sectors – including education – to foreign corporations to plunder and privatise these services worldwide. Two years ago investment bankers Merrill Lynch predicted that through GATS and commercial pressures all education worldwide will be privatised within 10 years and that there are massive profits to be made for multinational corporations.

The draft paragraph in question would not only increase pressure on all countries to sacrifice their education systems for private profit but rides roughshod over mounting international opposition to the inclusion of core public services in the agreement.

Paragraph 6 of the draft agreement includes…

“We are committed to intensifying our efforts to bring the negotiations on specific commitments to conclusion. We stress the importance of full engagement by all participants, inter alia through the continuous exchange of requests and offers…

We call upon those participants who have not yet submitted their initial offers to do so as soon as possible…

We are also committed to intensifying our efforts to conclude the negotiations on rule-making under GATS Articles VI:4, X, XIII, and XV in accordance with their respective mandates and deadlines…

We reaffirm that the negotiations shall aim to achieve progressively higher levels of liberalization with no a priori exclusion of any service sector or mode of supply…”

The WTO would love to be able to slip this dangerous, undemocratic paragraph into the agreement under the radar screen while all the focus is on agriculture.

It is unacceptable for the New Zealand government to allow such a paragraph – drafted by the unaccountable, free market mandarins at the WTO – to go unchallenged.

Education has no place in GATS and GATS has no place in a democratic world.

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