Australia ratifies WTO procurement pact

Australia has ratified the WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), submitting its instrument of accession to the WTO Secretariat on April 5, 2019. Starting next month, the country will benefit from new market access opportunities and other provisions under the pact

Based on the decision of the WTO’s Committee on Government Procurement of 17 October 2018, Australia will become the 48th WTO member to be bound by the GPA. The GPA will take effect for Australia 30 days from the date of submission of its accession instrument, i.e. on 5 May 2019.

The aim of the Agreement is to mutually open government procurement markets among its parties, consistent with principles of reciprocity. As a result of several rounds of negotiations, the GPA parties have opened procurement activities worth an estimated USD 1.7 trillion annually to international competition (i.e. to suppliers from GPA parties offering goods, services or construction services). Preliminary calculations suggest that Australia’s overall government procurement markets are worth AUD 110 billion (USD 78 billion) annually, meaning that Australia’s accession will add significantly to the current government procurement market covered by the Agreement.

Upon the entry into force of the GPA for Australia, the Agreement will cover almost 50 WTO members. Another 32 WTO members/observers and four international organizations participate in the GPA Committee as observers. Nine of these members with observer status are in the process of acceding to the Agreement. The current list of parties is available here.

Accession to the GPA requires, in addition to the existence of GPA-compliant national procurement legislation, the reaching of agreement on the terms of participation by each acceding WTO member. This is achieved through negotiations with the existing parties to the Agreement.

The schedule of each party setting out terms of participation contains several annexes which define the party’s commitments with respect to four dimensions of coverage:

  • the procuring entities covered by the Agreement;
  • the goods, services and construction services covered by the Agreement;
  • the threshold values above which procurement activities are covered by the Agreement; and
  • exceptions to the coverage.