The GPA 2012 is considered the “gold standard” for international trade agreements covering government procurement. As a result of several rounds of negotiations, GPA Parties have opened government procurement activities worth an estimated US$ 1.7 trillion annually to international competition.
The GPA is, first and foremost, a trade instrument designed to open government procurement markets among its Parties, around the same core principles of non-discrimination and transparency that underlie all WTO Agreements. A plurilateral agreement, it is made up of WTO Members who have voluntarily decided to be part of it. The GPA 2012 establishes basic rules on non-discrimination and transparency with respect to participation in each Party’s covered procurement markets as well as minimum standards regarding core aspects of the procurement process, to ensure transparency and open competition.
The Agreement also emphasises good governance and the fight against corruption as an underpinning of development, including substantive provisions that require participating governments to carry out their GPA-covered procurements in ways that avoid conflicts of interest and prevent corrupt practices. The GPA 2012 is administered by the Committee on Government Procurement, composed by representatives of all its Parties and Observers.
The GPA's successful renegotiation and revision in 2012, the continuing growth of its membership and its role as an instrument of good governance has attracted a wide range of economies looking to become Parties to the Agreement or an Observer, at a minimum. The GPA 2012, widely regarded as a modern instrument embracing and incentivising the use of best practices in government procurement internationally, has gained an important role in guiding policy reforms, particularly in transition economies.
The text crystallises current best practices in government procurement agreed upon by and acceptable to all GPA Parties. It is also harmonised with the UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement and serves as model for procurement chapters in bilateral FTAs and regional trade agreements worldwide.
All WTO Members are eligible to accede to the GPA 2012. To initiate the accession process, governments must submit an application for accession to the Committee on Government Procurement. Successful accession negotiation entails consensus between the GPA Parties and the acceding country on the extent and modalities of the proposed market access coverage offer and compliance with the procurement legislation of the acceding country with the GPA’s mandatory requirements.
Candidates submit an initial market access offer and also provide a description of the government’s procurement regime by replying to a standardised checklist of issues. Market access negotiations and discussions on possible necessary amendments of the procurement legislation and/or institutional system of an acceding economy may be conducted in parallel to save time and decrease the overall time of negotiations.
Developing and least-developed economies can also negotiate temporary transitional measures, subject to the agreement of the other GPA Parties and the acceding WTO Member's development needs.
Once the terms of accession have been agreed between the GPA Parties and the acceding WTO Member, the Committee on Government Procurement adopts a decision inviting the Member to accede to the GPA 2012 and to deposit its instrument of accession with the WTO Director-General within a specified time-period.
Any WTO Member, international intergovernmental organization, or even economy in the process of acceding to the WTO may attain observer status in the Committee on Government Procurement. In the case of international organizations and WTO acceding countries, a Committee decision is required.
Observer status in itself does not entail any obligation on accession to the Agreement. Observers may participate in the Committee discussions and be allowed access to circulated documents, when these are not of a sensitive nature.
The EBRD GPA TC Facility offers support to WTO Members which seek to become a Party to the GPA 2012, to recently acceded Parties looking to effectively implement the Agreement, and to economies who wish to become Observers or are considering later accession.
The Facility develops country-specific technical cooperation projects, upon request of the interested governments, in alignment with the GPA 2012 minimum standards. The Bank’s experts also provide non-binding legal assessments, including advice on compliance of the national procurement legislation with the GPA 2012 mandatory requirements and related capacity building.
The Facility has also helped economies negotiate the terms of their GPA accession by identifying acceptable market access coverage offers, determining procurement activities and/or entities to be covered by the Agreement and the possibility of implementing special and differential treatment provisions available to developing and least-developed economies. As part of its mandate, the Facility also provides logistical support to incoming delegations, facilitating representation in Geneva.
To date several acceding countries have benefitted from the EBRD GPA TC Facility, including North Macedonia, Armenia, Jordan, Kyrgyz Republic, Montenegro (GPA Party since 2015), Moldova (GPA Party since 2016), Tajikistan and Ukraine (GPA Party since 2016).