The workshop allowed participants to pool their knowledge and experiences on the benefits of the revised WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) adopted in 2012.
In addition to opening procurement markets of its parties, the plurilateral agreement provides for transparency and good governance as a means of making government procurement markets more efficient while supporting economic growth. This annual workshop was organised virtually this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants comprised senior officials with policy responsibility or experience in trade and government procurement policy matters from 37 economies.(1)
In his opening address on 7 December, WTO Deputy Director-General Xiaozhun Yi said the workshop was a “wonderful opportunity to disseminate information, deepen participants’ knowledge and foster dialogue on various aspects of trade and government procurement”. He highlighted “the significant positive implications of government procurement for economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and for attracting foreign direct investment. In addition to reflecting recent international best practices in government procurement”, he added, “the revised GPA is considered the “gold standard” for international trade agreements covering procurement.” DDG Yi’s full speech is available here.
The workshop emphasized the GPA’s growing relevance in today’s global economy, as evidenced by the increasing number of WTO members currently negotiating their accession to the Agreement. The workshop delved into the accession process and discussed ways of generating support for acceding to the Agreement domestically. Currently, 48 WTO members are bound by the Agreement. Brazil is the latest WTO member to have submitted an application to join the GPA in May.
Also under discussion were transitional periods for developing countries to negotiate their accession and the benefits of participating in the Committee on Government Procurement as observers. The number of observers has been steadily growing and diversifying over recent years. Côte d’Ivoire is the latest WTO member to have been granted observer status in July.
The workshop also explored the flexibilities contained in the 2012 GPA to allow parties to carry out procurement procedures in emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
More information about the revised GPA can be found here.
The workshop benefited from the expertise and contributions of numerous policy practitioners and experts from WTO bodies, other international organisations, national authorities, and academia. These included the Chair of the Committee on Government Procurement — Carlos Vanderloo of Canada, the Central European University, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Commission, the George Washington University Law School, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the University of Nottingham School of Law.