GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT: TRANSPARENCY WORKING GROUP
Working Group on Transparency in Government Procurement
The Singapore Ministerial Conference of 1996 set up the multilateral Working Group on Transparency in Government Procurement to conduct a study on transparency in government procurement practices, taking into account national policies and, on that basis, to develop elements suitable for inclusion in an appropriate agreement.
At the Doha Ministerial Conference, held in November 2001, Ministers recognised the case for a multilateral agreement on transparency in government procurement and agreed that negotiations would take place after the Fifth Ministerial Conference “on the basis of a decision to be taken, by explicit consensus, at that Session on modalities of negotiations”. They addressed, inter alia, an issue of particular concern to developing countries by explicitly stating that “negotiations shall be limited to the transparency aspects and therefore will not restrict the scope for countries to give preferences to domestic supplies and suppliers”.
At the Fifth Ministerial Conference, held in Cancún in September 2003, however, Members could not agree on launching negotiations. In the absence of any substantive outcome on this, as well as any of the other Doha Development Agenda issues, Ministers instead referred the whole agenda to the General Council.
On 1 August 2004, the WTO General Council adopted a decision, which addressed, inter alia , the handling of the issue of transparency in government procurement, as well as the issues of the relationship between trade and investment and the interaction between trade and competition. The Council agreed that “those issues will not form part of the Doha Work Programme and therefore no work towards negotiations (...) will take place within the WTO during the Doha Round”. Since this Decision, the Working Group on Transparency in Government Procurement has been inactive.
— a note by the WTO Secretariat providing a synthesis of the information available on transparency-related provisions in existing international instruments on government procurement procedures and on national practices;
— two notes by the WTO Secretariat WT/WGTGP/W/32 and WT/WGTGP/W/33 summarising the discussions in the Working Group up to autumn 2002;