GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT: THE PLURILATERAL AGREEMENT ON GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT (GPA)
The re-negotiation of the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA)
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A commitment to further negotiations was “built into” the current GPA (Article XXIV:7(b) and adopted in 1994. On 15 December 2011, negotiators reached a historic agreement on the outcomes of the re-negotiation of the Agreement. This political decision was confirmed, on 30 March 2012, by the formal adoption of the Decision on the Outcomes of the Negotiations under Article XXIV:7 of the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA/113).
The purpose of the negotiations was three-fold: (i) to improve and update the Agreement in the light, inter alia, of developments in information technology and procurement methods; (ii) to extend the coverage of the Agreement; and (iii) to eliminate remaining discriminatory measures. In that regard, the Committee on Government Procurement took two Decisions on the Modalities for the negotiations on extension of coverage and elimination of discriminatory measures and practices (GPA/79 and (GPA/79/Add.1). The negotiations were also intended to facilitate accession to the Agreement by additional Parties, notably developing countries. The negotiations under the GPA were and are not part of the so-called Doha Round of negotiations in the WTO which relates to a range of other topics.
In December 2006, negotiators reached an understanding on the revision of the text of the 1994 plurilateral Agreement. However, the agreement of the negotiators was provisional in that it was subject to (i) a legal check; and (ii) a mutually satisfactory outcome to the other aspect of the negotiations on a new Government Procurement Agreement, namely those on an expansion of coverage (i.e. the lists of government entities whose procurement is opened up).
On 15 December 2011, a political decision on the outcomes of all aspects of the negotiations was taken at Ministerial level in Geneva and was confirmed, on 30 March 2012, by the formal adoption of the Decision on the Outcomes of the Negotiations under Article XXIV:7 of the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA/113). The decisions address not only the text and coverage of the revised agreement, but also set out future work programmes of the Committee. This means that all elements of the re-negotiations have now been agreed and that the revised Agreement can enter into force subject to the submission of instruments of acceptance by GPA Parties (as specified in Protocol Amending the Agreement on Government Procurement, and the Final Provisions of the Agreement).
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Revised text of the Agreement on Government Procurement
The revised text entails a complete revision of the provisions of the Agreement with a view to making them more user friendly. The provisions have also been updated to take into account developments in current government procurement practice, including the role of electronic tools in the procurement process. Additional flexibility has been built in on some points, for example shorter time-periods for procuring goods and services of a type available on the commercial market place. Special and differential treatment for developing countries has been more clearly spelled out, in a manner that it is hoped will facilitate future accessions by such countries. A good deal of attention has been given to such questions as domestic review procedures for supplier challenges and the rules for modification of the coverage lists of Parties.
The GPA Parties have agreed that the new text should be used as the basis for accession negotiations with countries wanting to join the GPA, even before formal entry into force of the revised Agreement.
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Extension of the coverage of the Agreement
The negotiations have resulted in a significant extension of the coverage of the Agreement (which will be effective after the entry into force of the revised Agreement). These gains in market access have been provisionally estimated by the Secretariat as in the range of $80-100 billion annually.
They result from lower thresholds and additions of new entities and sectors to the existing Parties’ current Appendix I Annexes. For example, one Party has agreed to cover all of its provinces and territories. The other Parties to the Agreement have together added at least two hundred additional entities to be included in their schedules. Three major Parties will provide new coverage of so-called “build-operate-transfer” agreements (BOTs). Also, additional services coverage has been added by almost all Parties, and three Parties have agreed to reduce some of their thresholds.
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Future Work Programmes
Parties also agreed to initiate, upon entry into force of the revised Agreement, several work programmes which will guide the future work of the Committee on Government Procurement. These include the following:
- a Work Programme for SMEs;
- a Work Programme on the Collection and Reporting of Statistical Data;
- a Work Programme on Sustainable Procurement;
- a Work Programme on Exclusions and Restrictions in Parties' Annexes; and
- a Work Programme on Safety Standards in International Procurement.
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Decision on the Outcomes of the Negotiations under Article XXIV:7 of the Agreement on Government Procurement
> The decision formally adopting the outcomes described above is now available to the general public. It includes the following elements:
- Decision on the Outcomes of the Negotiations under Article XXIV:7 of the Agreement on Government Procurement
- Decision of the Committee on Government Procurement on Adoption of the Text of “The Protocol Amending the Agreement on Government Procurement”
- Protocol Amending the Agreement on Government Procurement
- Revised Text of the Agreement
- Appendix I Final Appendix I Offers of the GPA Parties in the GPA Coverage Negotiations
- Appendix II
- Appendix III
- Appendix IV
- Decision of the Committee on Government Procurement on Notification Requirements under Articles XIX and XXII of the Agreement
- Decision of the Committee on Government Procurement on Adoption of Work Programmes
- Decision of the Committee on Government Procurement on a Work Programme on SMEs
- Decision of the Committee on Government Procurement on a Work Programme on the Collection and Reporting of Statistical Data
- Decision of the Committee on Government Procurement on a Work Programme on Sustainable Procurement
- Decision of the Committee on Government Procurement on a Work Programme on Exclusions and Restrictions in Parties’ Annexes