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Trade Liberalization and Universal Access to Education Services

"The exclusion therefore does not appear to apply to education services in cases where such services are provided on a non-commercial basis but which are supplied in competition with another service provider. Similarly, the exclusion would not appear to apply to education services that are supplied on a commercial basis even where these services are supplied in the absence of competition with any other service supplier. The exclusion would seem to apply only in those cases where education services are provided by completely non-commercial, absolute monopolies. In most countries, however, education services are normally supplied through a mixture of public and private suppliers, or frequently include certain commercial aspects. A strict reading of Article 1:3 would indicate that such services fall outside the exclusion. In any case, wherever uncertainties about the scope of the exclusion arise, the language will almost certainly be interpreted narrowly. The WTO Council for Trade in Services, for instance, has supported the view that even in the context of sensitive public service sectors such as health and social services, the exclusion “needed to be interpreted narrowly”. "Despite the significance of GATS coverage for education services, there are indications that some member governments may not fully appreciate the limited scope of the “governmental authority” exclusion. Many governments may not recognize that certain aspects of education services and their regulation are likely already subject to those GATS obligations that apply horizontally, including most-favoured-nation treatment and transparency."