AGREEMENT ON GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT
Text of the Agreement
The Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) requires that open, fair and transparent conditions of competition be ensured in government procurement. For this purpose, the text of the Agreement establishes general principles and detailed procedural requirements that the GPA parties are obliged to apply in the covered procurement activities.
While the revised GPA has come into effect for most parties, the GPA 1994 remains in force for those parties who are still in the process of ratifying the revised Agreement. Therefore, the two versions of the GPA co-exist until all parties to the Agreement are bound by the revised Agreement. Between a party to the GPA 1994 and a party to the revised GPA, the GPA 1994 (including its Appendix I) continues to apply.
Same basic principles and elements
Generally speaking, the two versions of the Agreement are based on the same principles, i.e. non-discrimination, transparency and procedural fairness, and contain the same main elements:
- guarantees of national treatment and non-discrimination for the suppliers of parties to the Agreement with respect to procurement of covered goods, services and construction services as set out in each party's schedules
- provisions regarding accession to the Agreement and the availability of special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries
- detailed procedural requirements regarding the procurement process designed to ensure that covered procurement under the Agreement is carried out in a transparent and competitive manner that does not discriminate against the goods, services or suppliers of other parties
- additional requirements regarding transparency of procurement-related information (e.g. relevant statutes and regulations)
- provisions regarding modifications and rectifications of parties' coverage commitments
- requirements regarding the availability and nature of domestic review procedures for supplier challenges which must be put in place by all parties to the Agreement
- provisions regarding the application of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding in this area
- a “built-in agenda” for improvement of the Agreement, extension of coverage and elimination of remaining discriminatory measures through further negotiations.
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Improvements in the Revised Agreement
Nonetheless, the revised text improves on the GPA 1994 in a number of ways:
- The revised text entails a complete revision of the wording of the various provisions of the Agreement to streamline them and make the text easier to understand.
- The revised text takes into account developments in current government procurement practice, notably the use of electronic tools. It sets out related requirements to ensure that the general principles of the GPA are fully respected in the electronic era. It also incorporates additional flexibility for parties' procurement authorities — for example, shorter notice periods when electronic tools are used.
- The special and differential treatment provisions (S&D) that are available to developing members acceding to the GPA have been clarified and improved. This is expected to facilitate their accession, thus expanding the membership of the Agreement and market access opportunities.
- The revised text introduces a specific new requirement for participating governments and their relevant procuring entities to avoid conflicts of interest and prevent corrupt practices. This signals a belief on the part of the parties that the GPA can play a part in promoting good governance. The revised Agreement is also seen as an important tool for promoting a transparent and relatively corruption-free environment in the economies that are in the process of acceding to the Agreement.