GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT: SERVICES PROCUREMENT
Government procurement and the GATS
The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) states in Article XIII:1 that government procurement is exempt from the main market access provisions of the GATS. Nevertheless, Article XIII:2 of the GATS establishes a multilateral negotiating mandate on the procurement of services. Discussions are on-going in the Council for Trade in Services.
Discussions relating to Article XIII of the GATS have taken place in the multilateral Working Party on GATS Rules, established by the Council for Trade in Services in 1995.
The Guidelines and Procedures for the Negotiations on Trade in Services, adopted by the Special Session of the Council for Trade in Services in March 2001, provide that WTO members shall aim to complete the negotiations prior to the conclusion of the Doha Round negotiations on specific commitments. The Ministerial Declaration issued by the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December 2005 reaffirmed the work in this regard.
However, WTO members hold different views with respect to the scope of the mandate for negotiations contained in Article XIII. Some members take the view that negotiations under this mandate can involve market access and non-discrimination as well as transparency and other procedural issues. Other members do not share this interpretation, considering that Article XIII excludes most-favoured nation (MFN) treatment, market access and national treatment from the scope of the mandated negotiations. The discussion is on-going.
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Working Party documents
Documents of particular interest include:
- a note by the WTO Secretariat providing an overview of government procurement-related provisions in economic integration agreements.
- an expanded note by the WTO Secretariat on government procurement-related provisions in economic integration agreements.
- a note by the WTO Secretariat on main approaches to the undertaking of commitments on government procurement in economic integration agreements.
- a report by the Chairperson of the Working Party on GATS Rules, dated June 2003, on negotiations on government procurement, comprising thematic tables of the main relevant documents prepared up to the issuance of the report.