24 July 2014

Revised WTO Agreement on Government Procurement broadens access to public contracts

The revised World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) entered into force on 6 April 2014, following approval of the Protocol of Amendment by Israel on 7 March. The new GPA is intended to streamline and modernise its predecessor, agreed in 2004. It includes new, simplified rules on transparency and for the first time considers the use of electronic procurement tools.

The Agreement affects local as well as national governments, with an increased number of central and regional government agencies now committed to opening their public procurement markets to foreign bidders. In line with WTO principles of openness and non-discrimination, the GPA focuses on interoperability between different electronic procurement tools. Parties must ensure that their systems are compatible with each other so as not to prejudice potential bidders.

Negotiating parties also agreed on ambitious work plans for the future, including sustainable procurement and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. EU Commissioner Michel Barnier welcomed the revised GPA, saying: β€œIt will […] make public procurement rules in the GPA jurisdictions more transparent and predictable, in line with the spirit of the recently adopted reforms of EU public procurement rules.”

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