DS: Korea — Measures Affecting Government Procurement

This summary has been prepared by the Secretariat under its own responsibility. The summary is for general information only and is not intended to affect the rights and obligations of Members.


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Summary of the dispute to date

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Complaint by the United States.

On 16 February 1999, the US requested consultations with Korea in respect of certain procurement practices of the Korean Airport Construction Authority (KOACA), and other entities concerned with the procurement of airport construction in Korea. The US claimed that such practices were inconsistent with Korea’s obligations under the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). These include practices relating to qualification for bidding as a prime contractor, domestic partnering, and the absence of access to challenge procedures that are in breach of the GPA. The US contended that KOACA and the other entities are within the scope of Korea’s list of central government entities as specified in Annex 1 of Korea’s obligations in Appendix I of the GPA, and pursuant to Article I(1) of the GPA, apply to the procurement of airport construction.

On 11 May 1999, the US requested the establishment of a panel. At its meeting on 26 May 1999, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.


Panel and Appellate Body proceedings

Further to a second request to establish a panel by the US, the DSB established a panel at its meeting on 16 June 1999. The EC and Japan reserved their third party rights. On 30 August 1999, the Panel was composed. The report of the panel was circulated to Members on 1 May 2000. The panel found that:

  • the entities conducting procurement for the project at issue were not covered entities under Korea’s Appendix I of the GPA and were not otherwise covered by Korea’s obligations under the GPA.
  • based on less than complete Korean answers to certain US questions during negotiations for Korea’s accession to the GPA, there had initially been an error on the part of the US as to which Korean authority was in charge of the project at issue. However, in light of all the facts the panel considered that there was notice of the error and the US should at least have conducted further inquiries in this regard before the negotiations were ended.
  • the US had not demonstrated that benefits reasonably expected to accrue under the GPA, or in the negotiations resulting in Korea’s accession to the GPA, were nullified or impaired by measures taken by Korea (whether or not in conflict with the provisions of the GPA), within the meaning of Article XXII:2 of the GPA.

The DSB adopted the Panel Report at its meeting on 19 June 2000.


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