Education plays a crucial role in fostering personal and social development, as well as economic growth. Government policies play a dominant role in this sector. Over time, trade in education services, particularly at the tertiary level, have been growing in importance. Driving factors include a combination of demographic changes, technological developments, national development goals, and governmental reforms to the funding and provision of higher education. The educational market has grown in size with more exporters entering the field to satisfy growing demand worldwide. The education sector today truly operates in a global context with institutions, programmes, and people supplying services across borders at an unprecedented scale.

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The internationalization of education services is a politically contested subject. Trade in education is debated between market liberalizers and protectionists and is played out within countries and their different stakeholders, for example between government ministries (e.g. ministry of trade versus ministry of education) and between government and the private sector (privately owned schools versus publically run schools). A balance needs to be struck between consumer protection and the rights of governments to pursue high quality education without falling into the trap of closing market access to foreign education service providers.

Trade in educational services (ES) is a potentially very lucrative source of revenue for a country and its schools, universities and training providers. For example, exports of ES and their respective share of all exported services in 2000 amounted to 10.28 Billion USD (3.5%) for the USA and 2.155 Billion USD (11.8%) for Australia. Looking at the world market of ES, the total value of annual trade in 1999 in higher education services has been estimated at 30 Billion USD reaching 50% of trade in financial services estimated at 59.3 Billion USD. These figures would even be higher if estimates were available for total trade in ES. Higher education is only one of five sub sectors in ES. Not included are trade in primary secondary and adult education services.

Saner, R. 2005. Trade in Educational Services and the Doha WTO Round: the need to move out of current impasse. Paper presented at the ECG-WTO, August 2005.

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Saner, R. & Fasel, S. 2003. Negotiating Trade in Educational Services within the WTO/GATS Context. Aussenwirtschaft, 59: 275-308

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Greening the World Trade Organization
by Raymond Saner
Environmental and Climate Change Economics

The research programme on “Climate Change and Sustainable Development” addresses the two inter-related issues of climate change and sustainable development and a corollary of key topics in the field of environmental economics. The programme builds upon over twenty years of successful FEEM research in the field. In the specific area of climate change, FEEM has achieved a leading position in the international research community, as a result of the in-house development and application of several methodologies for the economic analysis of climate and energy policies. FEEM models address world-wide vulnerability to changes in climatic conditions, and investigate the economics of mitigation and adaptation to these changes. In the specific area of sustainable development, FEEM research covers a variety of issues: sustainable management of natural resources, the economics of natural hazards and extreme events, and the use of indicators to measure sustainability and growth beyond GDP. FEEM can also rely on a strong research team of applied economists who investigate the economic performance of various environmental and climate policy instruments. The twofold goal of this research programme is to contribute to science while guiding policies and informing the public debate.