WTO: 2016 NEWS ITEMS

GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT


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The WTO’s Committee on Government Procurement agreed on 11 November 2015 to invite Ukraine to join the GPA based on the terms set out in a draft decision circulated to parties the previous month. Ukraine applied for GPA accession in February 2011, less than three years after joining the WTO, and submitted its first coverage offer in March 2014.

The GPA will take effect for Ukraine 30 days from the date of submission of its accession instrument, i.e. on 18 May 2016.

The aim of the GPA is to open up, as much as possible, government procurement markets to international competition, make government procurement more transparent, and provide legal guarantees of non-discrimination with regard to the products, services or suppliers of any party to the Agreement. Membership grants Ukraine and other parties assured access to public procurement markets that have been valued worldwide at as much as $1.7 trillion annually, and whose value will grow over time. Accession to the Agreement can also be an important signal of a country’s commitment to good governance.

Accession to the GPA requires, in addition to the existence of GPA-compliant national procurement legislation, the reaching of agreement on the terms of participation by each acceding WTO member. This is achieved through negotiations with the existing parties to the Agreement.

The schedule of each party setting out terms of participation contains several annexes which define the party’s commitment with respect to four dimensions of coverage:

  • the procuring entities covered by the Agreement
  • the goods, services and construction services covered by the Agreement
  • the threshold values above which procurement activities are covered by the Agreement, and
  • exceptions to the coverage.

The revised GPA, which entered into force on 6 April 2014, provides expanded coverage through the addition of numerous government entities (ministries and agencies) to the scope of the GPA and through the inclusion of new services and other areas of public procurement.

The GPA is a plurilateral agreement, which means that it applies only to those WTO members that have agreed to be bound by it. Current parties to the GPA are Armenia; Canada; the European Union (covering its 28 member states); Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Israel; Japan; Korea; Liechtenstein; Montenegro: the Kingdom of the Netherlands with respect to Aruba; New Zealand; Norway; Singapore; Switzerland; Chinese Taipei; and the United States.

Moldova’s accession terms to the Agreement were approved by the Committee in September 2015. Other WTO members that have started the process of acceding to the GPA are Albania, Australia, China, Georgia, Jordan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Oman and Tajikistan. A further five members — the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Seychelles — have provisions regarding accession to the Agreement in their respective protocols of accession to the WTO.

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