chapter  10
Trade agreements: Abolishing barriers and erecting barricades
Pages 16

Over the past decade, trade agreements, whether global, regional or bilateral, have routinely included trade in services as well as goods. Prior to the widely publicized anti-WTO protests in Seattle in 1999, the operation of trade agreements was an arcane matter, of interest chiefly to specialists. However, as efforts to remove trade barriers have progressed, the ideological barricades have been erected in response. As the value of trade in education has grown, trade agreements have attracted closer scrutiny from governments, providers of crossborder education, unions and non-government organizations. Some educationexporting countries have seen this as an opportunity to remove various barriers hampering their institutions’ international activities (United States International Trade Commission 1997, Snape 1998, WTO 1998a, GATE 1999, WTO 2000a, APEC 2001, Colas and Gottlieb 2001). On the other side of the barricades, education has been one of the service sectors whose inclusion in trade agreements has aroused most opposition from the anti-globalization movement in recent years, along with health and media content. Academics and students have been repeatedly warned that the WTO is aiming to destroy public education on a global scale. These accounts are similarly vague, in that they tend to make dire predictions without providing concrete case studies of past or future consequences of GATS commitments in particular countries.