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“Good progress” in GPA accession talks
The Committee reviewed the progress made on the accession bids of Australia, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan based on revised market access offers.
Australia introduced its latest revised offer, which it said will provide GPA parties’ suppliers AUD 100 billion of market access and contains improved market access in services, particularly on transport services. Some parties said Australia’s offer was close to being agreeable; others said they had outstanding substantive concerns. “While there is still some distance to go, I am encouraged by the discussion”, the Chairman said. Australia has been negotiating its GPA accession since September 2015.
The revised market access offer of the Kyrgyz Republic “is close to being satisfactory”, the Chairman reported, provided that the Kyrgyz Republic addresses members’ technical adjustment requests, including on the proposed list of entities whose procurements would be open for competition (known as the “entity coverage”). He expressed “high hopes that this accession negotiation can be concluded in principle in the first half of 2017”. The Kyrgyz Republic’s latest revised offer was circulated on 4 October.
Negotiations continue on Tajikistan’s accession, which has made “impressive strides”, the Chairman reported. Some members voiced concerns about proposed transitional measures and welcomed Tajikistan’s readiness to review those. Tajikistan has consistently been providing new offers since it started negotiations in February 2015.
Other pending accessions
China reiterated its continuing efforts to create the conditions that would allow it to submit a revised market offer. Members called on China to promptly submit a revised offer and some expressed readiness to help this accession to move forward. China has been negotiating its accession since December 2007.
Russia announced it would submit an initial market access offer by December, following up on its recent application for accession to the GPA. Russia had undertaken a commitment to start GPA accession negotiations 4 years after its WTO accession in 2012 and is an observer to the GPA Committee since May 2013. Members welcomed this update.
Other currently inactive accession negotiations include Albania, Georgia, Jordan and Oman. In addition, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have GPA-related commitments in their Protocol of accession to the WTO — resulting from negotiations with WTO members.
Accession candidates are required to submit for members’ review an initial market access offer and replies to a checklist regarding their national procurement legislation. This forms the basis for negotiating accession to the GPA. The agreement aims to open up, as much as possible, government procurement markets to foreign competition, make government procurement more transparent, and provide legal guarantees of non-discrimination for the products, services or suppliers of any GPA party. The GPA is a plurilateral agreement — potentially open to all WTO members and binding only the parties to the agreement. Currently, 47 WTO members (including the EU and its 28 member states) are bound by the agreement.
Kazakhstan granted observer status
WTO members approved Kazakhstan’s request for observership in the Committee. It reaffirmed its intention to apply for accession to the GPA in the future in line with its WTO accession commitments. A high-level seminar on GPA accession is planned for the coming weeks in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Implementation of the revised GPA
Switzerland is the last party yet to implement, through ongoing legislative reforms, the revised GPA, which was adopted in 2012 and entered into force in April 2014. The delegation said the legislative developments are going as planned and expressed hope that the Swiss Parliament will ratify the Instrument of Acceptance of the GPA in the first half of next year.
Work on SMEs and on sustainability is under way and the Committee agreed to hold a symposium to hear from international experts about sustainability in government procurement.
The next set of informal plurilateral discussions of the Committee will take place in February 2017, following a short end-of year meeting in November.