The WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA)

The WTO Agreement on Government
Procurement (GPA): overview and the
accession process*
Robert Anderson
Counsellor, WTO Secretariat (Team leader for government procurement and
competition policy)
Colloquium on the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement and the
George Washington University Law School
Washington, D.C.
4 November 2014
* NB: Any views expressed are the personal responsibility of the speaker and
should not be attributed to the WTO or its Secretariat.
What is the GPA?: Basic nature of the
 An internationally recognized tool that promotes:
Access to other GPA Parties’ procurement markets;
Improved value for money in each participating
Member’s procurements;
Good governance (transparency, fair competition
and an absence of corruption in covered
procurement markets).
 A plurilateral agreement within the WTO system (not
all WTO Members participate)
Membership increasing over time. Several
developing/transition economies currently
pursuing/pondering accession.
 Well-aligned with the UNCITRAL Model Law on
Procurement and set to be recognized in new World
Bank Procurement Guidelines.
Five main elements of the Agreement (1)
 General rules on non-discrimination, national treatment
and transparency with respect to each Party’s “covered
procurement markets”.
Coverage defined through detailed schedules (Annexes)
in “Appendix I”. Specify covered entities, thresholds,
covered services, specific exclusions, etc. NB: scope for
accommodation of economic preferences/social policy
considerations via the schedules.
Minimum standards on aspects of the procurement
process (based on international best practices), to ensure
transparent and open competition. Includes provisions
Tendering procedures and qualification of suppliers;
Time limits, documentation, opening of tenders and
contract award procedures.
Five main elements of the Agreement
Enforcement provisions: (i) requirement of independent
domestic review procedures (bid challenge or remedy
systems); and (ii) the WTO-Dispute Settlement system.
“Transitional measures” (S&D) to facilitate accession to
the Agreement by developing economies.
The recent conclusion of the GPA
renegotiation: overview
 NB: revised GPA is now in force (effective 6 April 2014) for the
following GPA Parties: Aruba; Canada; the European Union (including
its 28 member states); Hong Kong (China); Iceland; Israel; Japan;
Liechtenstein; Norway; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; and the United
 Elements of the renegotiation:
 Revised text – modernized/greater flexibility/improved transitional
measures for developing countries that join the Agreement.
 Market access enhancement package valued at $80-100 billion
 A new set of “agreed Work Programmes” on issues such as
Sustainability and Access to Procurement Activities by Small and
Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The recent conclusion of the GPA renegotiation
(2): key improvements in the revised GPA text
 Core principles of the revised text are the same as the existing one (nondiscrimination, transparency, procedural fairness). However, revised text
 A complete revision of the wording of the provisions of the Agreement
with a view to making them more streamlined, easier to understand
and user-friendly;
 Updating of the text of the Agreement to take into account
developments in current government procurement practice, notably
the use of electronic tools;
 Additional flexibility for Parties' procurement authorities, for example
in the form of shorter notice periods when electronic tools are used.
Shorter time-periods have also been allowed for procuring goods and
services of types that are available on the commercial marketplace;
The recent conclusion of the GPA renegotiation
(3): improvements in the revised GPA text (cont’d)
 More explicit recognition of the GPA's significance for good governance
and the fight against corruption, including in new substantive provisions
that require participating governments to carry out their GPA-covered
procurements in ways that avoid conflicts of interest and prevent corrupt
practices; and
 Revised and improved transitional measures ("special and differential
treatment") for developing countries that accede to the Agreement.
Under the revised provisions, such measures are to be tailored to the
particular needs of the individual accession candidates.
The accession process: what does it involve?
 GPA accession open to all WTO Members.
 Based on terms to be negotiated between existing Parties and
the acceding WTO Member. The terms to be negotiated
include: (i) coverage; and (ii) transitional measures, if any.
 Upon accession, new Parties must have in place GPAcompliant national legislation.
Who is in the Agreement? Who is coming
 Already enrolled: the EU and its 28 member States;
most other traditional developed countries (i.e. US,
Canada, Japan; Norway, Switzerland and
Liechtenstein); plus Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Israel;
Korea; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Aruba and Armenia.
 Approved for accession last week (!): Montenegro and
New Zealand.
 Currently in the accession pipeline: Albania, China,
Georgia, Jordan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Oman,
and Ukraine.
 Commitments to seek accession: Macedonia, Mongolia,
Russia, Tajikistan and Saudi Arabia.
Observership in the Agreement: a possibility
worth considering?
 Any WTO Member can become a GPA observer, just by
making a request to the Committee.
 A mere request for observership does not imply a
commitment to eventually become a Party.
 Currently, twenty-eight WTO Members have observer status
under the Agreement: Albania, Argentina, Australia,
Bahrain, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Georgia, India,
Indonesia, Jordan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Moldova,
Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Oman, Panama,
Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine and
Viet Nam.

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