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The first version of the GPA entered into force at the time of the GATT. A revised version of the Agreement came into being in 1996, one year after the creation of the WTO. The dedicated webpage provides some key facts and figures about the GPA along with a timeline of its evolution, a photo gallery, video messages from the GPA community and other features. It can be accessed here.
The GPA is a plurilateral agreement within the framework of the WTO, meaning that not all WTO members are parties to it. The Agreement currently has 21 parties representing 48 WTO members. A total of 35 WTO members and governments negotiating their WTO accession participate in the Committee on Government Procurement as observers. Out of these, 11 members are in the process of acceding to the Agreement.
The objective of the GPA is to open government procurement markets among its parties. As a result of several rounds of negotiations, the GPA parties have opened procurement activities estimated to be worth more than USD 1.7 trillion annually to international competition (i.e. to suppliers from the GPA parties offering goods, services or construction services).
Basic principles and elements
In 2012, a revised version of the GPA was adopted. The revised Agreement — also known as “GPA 2012” — is based on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency and procedural fairness. It contains the following 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 coverage schedules
- provisions on special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries
- detailed procedural requirements on the procurement process. This is to ensure that covered procurement is carried out in a transparent and competitive manner that does not discriminate against the goods, services or suppliers of other parties, avoids conflicts of interest and prevents corrupt practices
- provisions regarding the application of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Understanding in this area.
Evolution of the GPA
1979: the first Agreement on Government Procurement was negotiated during the Tokyo Round of trade negotiations under the GATT
1981: the first Government Procurement Agreement entered into force
1986: the GPA was amended with extended scope and coverage of governmental entities (i.e. mayor's offices, public libraries and schools)
1988: the amended GPA entered into force
1994: the GPA was signed in Marrakesh on 15 April as a result of the Uruguay Round of negotiations and at the same time as the Agreement Establishing the WTO
1996: the so-called “GPA 1994” entered into force on 1 January
2011: the renegotiation of the GPA 1994 ended in December
2012: the new agreement was adopted in March. The text can be accessed here
2014: the so-called “GPA 2012” came into force for the parties to the GPA 1994 that had ratified the GPA 2012
2021: the GPA 2012 entered into force for Switzerland on 1 January, the last party to the GPA 1994 that still had to accept the GPA 2012. The same day, the GPA 2012 replaced the GPA 1994 for all parties.
As negotiated in the GPA 2012, the parties will continue improving the GPA. This includes advancing various work programmes. The list can be found here. The GPA 2012 sets out that the parties shall undertake further negotiations to progressively reduce and eliminate discriminatory measures and to extend its coverage to the extent possible.
More information about the GPA can be found here.