In his keynote address on 17 September to a GPA symposium hosted at WTO headquarters in Geneva, DG Azevêdo noted that current parties to the GPA have opened procurement activities worth an estimated 1.7 trillion dollars annually to international competition.

Forty-five WTO members are party to the GPA, up from 22 in 1996. Montenegro and New Zealand became the latest members to join this summer, while Moldova’s accession terms were finalized on 16 September.  Another ten members are currently in the process of negotiating their GPA membership terms.

DG Azevêdo noted that the GPA was revised last year to increase the Agreement’s flexibility, including improved transitional measures for developing countries.

“Through its provisions, the Agreement itself promotes transparency and good governance,” he said. “It supports good practices in government procurement. And it serves as an important benchmark for national policy reforms.

“In turn, this can have positive effects for efficiency and also as a means to attract foreign direct investment,” he added.

Government procurement accounts for 10-15 per cent of the GDP of an economy on average.

DG Azevêdo said implementing and expanding the WTO’s existing agreements — not only the GPA, but the recently-concluded Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Information Technology Agreement — strengthens the trading system and bolsters opportunities for economic growth and development.

“With this in mind, I encourage more WTO members — especially developing and emerging economies — to look at the benefits of GPA accession,” he declared.

The GPA symposium will continue until 18 September. DG Azevêdo's full speech is available here.

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