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WTO NEWS: 1998 PRESS RELEASES

PRESS/105
29 June 1998

Work programme and timetable for negotiations agreed under the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement

Parties to the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement have agreed to try to complete negotiations on the simplification and improvement of the Agreement by the Third WTO Ministerial Conference, to be held in late 1999. In taking this decision, the Committee on Government Procurement, on 25 June, also adopted a work programme for the negotiations. This calls for the tabling of proposals no later than the end of April 1998, the preparation of a basic negotiating document by the summer of 1999 and intensive negotiations during the autumn of that year.

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The parties also agreed that in parallel with the above, they would continue work on two other elements of the negotiations: the elimination of discriminatory measures and practices which distort open procurement and the expansion of coverage. These negotiations are aimed at facilitating the expansion of membership by making the Agreement more accessible to non-parties. WTO Members not parties to the Agreement and other observer governments to the Agreement have been invited to participate fully in the work programme. These negotiations are called for under Article XXIV:7 of the Agreement on Government Procurement, which requires that negotiations on improving the Agreement and extending its coverage shall be undertaken before the end of 1998. As preparation for these negotiations, the parties have been reviewing the Agreement following a decision to this effect contained in the Committee's report to the Singapore Ministerial at the end of 1996. Note to Editors: The Agreement on Government Procurement, signed in Marrakesh in April 1994, entered into force on 1 January 1996. It established an open framework of rights and obligations among its Parties with respect to their national laws, regulations, procedures and practices in the area of government procurement. The cornerstone of the rules is non-discrimination of foreign products, services and suppliers. The Agreement also lays down heavy emphasis on procedures for providing transparency of laws, regulations, procedures and practices regarding government procurement. The following WTO Members are Parties to the Agreement: Canada; the European Communities and fifteen member States; Hong Kong, China; Israel; Japan; Korea; Liechtenstein; the Kingdom of the Netherlands with respect to Aruba; Norway; Singapore; Switzerland; and the United States.