WTO: 2006 NEWS ITEMS
Provisional agreement on text of revised Government Procurement Agreement
Government procurement negotiators reached an understanding on the revision of the text of the 1994 plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) at a meeting of the Committee on Government Procurement held this afternoon. The agreement of negotiators is provisional in that it is subject to a mutually satisfactory outcome to the other aspect of the negotiations on a new Government Procurement Agreement, namely those on an expansion of coverage (i.e. the areas of government business opened up to international competition).
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Agreement was also reached on a time-frame of spring 2007 to conclude the coverage negotiations. These negotiations will be conducted on the basis of the revised text.
The revised text entails a complete revision of the provisions of the Agreement with a view to making them more user friendly. The provisions have also been updated to take into account developments in current government procurement practice, including the role of electronic tools in the procurement process. Additional flexibility has been built in on some points, for example shorter time-periods for procuring goods and services of a type available on the commercial market place. Special and differential treatment for developing countries has been more clearly spelled out, in a manner that it is hoped will facilitate future accessions by such countries. A good deal of attention has been given to such questions as domestic review procedures for supplier challenges and the rules for modification of the coverage lists of Parties. On this latter matter, it has been agreed to develop arbitration procedures for resolving differences.
The GPA Parties have agreed that the new text should be used as the basis for accession negotiations with countries wanting to join the GPA. Accession negotiations are under way with eight WTO Members (Albania, Georgia, Jordan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Oman, Panama and Chinese Taipei). China has also indicated its intention to initiate negotiations by tabling an offer by the end of 2007.
The chairman of the Committee, Ambassador Cho Tae-yul, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea, welcomed the provisional agreement reached today and said that “it shows that political will to reach agreements on difficult issues continues to be alive in the WTO”.
At its meeting today, the GPA Committee also adopted a decision to expand the coverage of the Agreement to include, with effect from 1 January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania, which are acceding to the European Communities on that date.
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