GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT

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Switzerland submitted the so-called “instrument of acceptance” to the WTO on 2 December. This means that, as of 1 January 2021, the revised GPA will be in force for all GPA parties. The Government Procurement Agreement opens government procurement markets among its parties. The revised GPA, in force since 2014, expands the number of governmental entities, such as ministries and agencies, that are covered by the Agreement, and adds new services. The text of the revised agreement can be found here.

The same day, the UK submitted the so-called “instrument of accession” to the WTO. This means that the UK will take part in the GPA in its own right from 1 January 2021. The UK continues to be covered by the agreement during the European Union-UK transition period, which ends on 31 December 2020. It is treated as a member state of the European Union during the transition period.

Deputy Director-General, Yi Xiaozhun, who received the UK's instrument of accession and Switzerland's instrument of acceptance, said: “Today's submissions by the United Kingdom and Switzerland very clearly demonstrate both countries' strong commitment to an open and rules-based trading system for their government procurement. Their participation in the revised Government Procurement Agreement will allow companies in GPA parties to access Switzerland's and the United Kingdom's procurement markets covered by the GPA based on the principles of transparency, good governance, non-discrimination and fair competition.”

Switzerland's Ambassador to the WTO, Didier Chambovey, said: “I am delighted to hand over Switzerland's Instrument of Acceptance of the revised GPA. This is a major milestone as it marks the entry into force of the revised GPA for all parties. Switzerland attaches great importance to a strong rules-based trading system, including through plurilateral agreements such as the GPA.”

The United Kingdom's Ambassador to the WTO, Julian Braithwaite, said: “Today, I submitted the UK’s GPA Instrument of Accession to ensure our businesses will have continued access to a GBP 1.3 trillion global market in public procurement. This means that the UK has delivered on its longstanding objective of maintaining full certainty, both for businesses in the UK and overseas. I want to thank all 20 parties for their cooperation throughout the process.”

The GPA is a plurilateral agreement — open to all WTO members but binding only for the parties to the Agreement. Each country's terms of participation are negotiated with the other GPA parties and set out in its respective market access schedule. These schedules contain several annexes defining the party’s commitments with respect to:

  • the procuring entities whose procurement processes will be open to foreign bidders
  • the goods, services and construction services open to foreign competition
  • the threshold values above which procurement activities will be open to foreign competition
  • exceptions to the coverage.

Currently, 48 WTO members are bound by the Agreement. The GPA aims to open up, in a reciprocal manner and to the extent agreed between WTO members, government procurement markets to foreign competition, and make government procurement more transparent. It provides legal guarantees of non-discrimination for the products, services and suppliers of GPA parties in covered procurement activities. Government procurement typically accounts for about 15% of developed and developing countries' economies.

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