New party to the Agreement
North Macedonia will become a GPA party 30 days after submitting its instrument of accession to the WTO’s Director-General. Speaking at the meeting, Ms Razmena Cekic-Durovic, State Secretary at North Macedonia's Ministry of Economy, said that the delegation's objective is to ratify the decision promptly and submit the instrument of accession to the WTO.
“During the past five years,” Ms Cekic-Durovic said, “we have shown that we honour this commitment [to initiate negotiations for joining the Agreement], not only by words, but also by action.”
She underlined that the Committee's decision reflects North Macedonia's commitment to providing a level playing field for foreign and domestic suppliers seeking to gain from procurement opportunities made available by specific entities in North Macedonia.
Ms Cekic-Durovic added: “It is of particular importance for countries to further promote cross-border trade and open up public procurement markets, thus contributing to increased liberalisation, integration and transparency of a bigger number of countries in the framework of the GPA.”
This was the first meeting chaired by Martin Zbinden (Switzerland) who was selected as chair in May by the GPA parties. Mr Zbinden said: “North Macedonia's accession sends a strong signal to the region and beyond about market opening, transparency and good governance in government procurement, showing a pathway to other members wishing to follow in North Macedonia's footsteps.”
New observers to the Committee
The Dominican Republic and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) participated in a GPA meeting for the first time as observers.
The Dominican Republic's Ambassador in Geneva, Dr José R. Sánchez-Fung, said that his country's observership to the GPA Committee — the first for a Caribbean country — shows the government's commitment to more transparency, which is indispensable for supporting economic entities.
The Ambassador also drew attention to a workshop co-organized with the WTO Secretariat in March in the Dominican Republic. The workshop focused on the economic benefits of the GPA and on achieving effective participation as an observer in the Committee, among other things, he said.
The EBRD's General Counsel, Michael Strauss, underscored the Bank's longstanding cooperation with the WTO Secretariat. He stressed that, since 2012, the EBRD has been actively supporting economies in pursuing their accession to the GPA. He added: “The GPA 2012 has a key role to play in the sustainable economic growth of WTO members, in a quick recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and in enhancing resilient global supply chains. We, at the EBRD, are proud to support the activities of WTO members and the WTO Secretariat aimed at creating fair, open and efficient procurement markets for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
The parties and observers to the GPA can be found here.
The next meeting of the Committee on Government Procurement is expected to take place in the autumn.
Not all WTO members are Parties to the Government Procurement Agreement. While it is open to all WTO members, this plurilateral agreement is binding only for those members that have joined it. Forty-eight WTO members (including the 27 member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom) are currently bound by the Agreement.
Each applicant's terms of participation are negotiated with GPA parties. These terms are set out in each party's schedule (available from the e-GPA Gateway), which defines its 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.
The GPA aims to open up government procurement markets to foreign competition in a reciprocal manner and to the extent agreed between GPA parties. It also aims to make government procurement more transparent and to promote good governance. Reciprocal market opening assists GPA parties in purchasing goods and services that offer the best value for their money. The Agreement provides legal guarantees of non-discrimination for the goods, services and suppliers of GPA parties in covered procurement activities, which are worth an estimated USD 1.7 trillion annually.
A protocol amending the GPA was adopted in March 2012. The revised Agreement — known as “the GPA 2012” — streamlines and modernizes the Agreement, taking account for example of the widespread use of electronic procurement tools. It provides gains in market access in the range of USD 80-100 billion annually. See the details here.
More information on the GPA can be found here.
Many members took the floor to condemn the war in Ukraine. The Russian delegate responded by saying that the WTO is not the proper venue for a discussion of this nature.