Australia has concluded negotiations to join the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement.
What is the WTO GPA?
The Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) is a World Trade Organization (WTO) plurilateral agreement (an agreement not all WTO Members are part of) that opens government procurement markets between members. The GPA's principles are transparency and non-discrimination, requiring Members to:
- offer other Members’ suppliers conditions ‘no less favourable’ than domestic suppliers
- provide review procedures for suppliers to raise complaints about tender processes.
Australia and the GPA
Australia wants to join the GPA to protect and promote Australian businesses bidding for government procurement contracts in the markets of its 47 current members.1 This market is valued at US$1.7 trillion2 annually and is expected to grow following the accession of China and Russia to the GPA.
In return, we agree overseas companies can bid for our government business.
Australia launched negotiations to accede to the GPA in 2015.
Benefits to Australian exporters
Legally binding market access
GPA membership will provide legally binding market access for Australian firms to the procurement markets of GPA members, most significantly the European Union and its 28 member states. This would provide safeguards against any future protectionist measures introduced by GPA parties while delivering the certainty of a multilateral rules-based system. While Australian firms are not currently automatically disqualified from participation in GPA members’ markets, there are no legal barriers to stop some GPA members from excluding Australian firms.
Access to future GPA market expansion
Nine additional parties are currently in GPA accession talks, including Russia and China. China's accession to the GPA will, for the first time, secure for GPA member suppliers meaningful and legally binding market access to significant parts of Chinese procurement markets. China's total procurement market is estimated at up to US$2.5 trillion at around 20 per cent of China's GDP. China's accession is a high priority for GPA members. China's accession may also generate considerable further interest from other WTO Members who have not acceded to the GPA.
Review rights for firms
Aggrieved firms have the right to take a complaint to an independent review body in each jurisdiction.
Improvements in the GPA
A revised GPA entered into force on 6 April 2014. For covered government procurements, the revised GPA improves and updates the agreement and is more in line with the principles underlying Australia’s government procurement regime and makes GPA accession more beneficial.
- The revised GPA better reflects the needs and realities of modern procurement processes. Notably the revised GPA takes into account the expansion of electronic procurement and the often reduced timelines and increased efficiency of government procurement practices.
- The revised GPA provides gains in market access. Existing GPA members have expanded coverage of government entities (ministries and agencies) and services.
Australian Government procurement practices have evolved over the past decade, making us already compliant with the GPA. Australia enjoys a world-class government procurement system based on principles of value for money, non-discrimination and competition. Our procurement market is already open to competition from foreign suppliers.
Safeguarding Australian interests
Australia safeguards specific policy and strategic interests in negotiating trade agreements. The Australian Government worked closely with state and territory governments and other stakeholders to fully reflect Australia’s broad commercial and government procurement policy interests in our GPA negotiating position.
Timeline of Australian accession
28 November 2018: The Australian Government tabled the text of the GPA, the terms of Australia’s accession to the GPA, along with the accompanying National Interest Analysis, in parliament.
The terms of Australia’s accession are currently being considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).
17 October 2018: Australia concluded negotiations and was formally invited by GPA parties to join the WTO GPA.
2015: Australia launched negotiations to accede to the GPA.
Current procurement market access
Australia’s procurement market is integrated with New Zealand, and Australian suppliers already have legally-binding access to the procurement markets of the US, Singapore, Chile, the Republic of Korea and Japan through our bilateral free trade agreements. Australia has also negotiated procurement market access in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
DFAT held consultations with peak bodies and industry stakeholders, and a public consultation process, which called for submissions from all interested stakeholders throughout the negotiation process.
* Organisations listed: Some organisations/entities have provided permission to be listed publicly as having made a submission to DFAT. Where an organisation/entity has also agreed to have their submission made available, a link to the text of their submission appears next to their name.
Copyright and content: Copyright in submissions resides with the author(s), not with DFAT. The views expressed in these submissions are the views of the author(s) and should not be understood as reflecting the views of the DFAT.
- 1 Latest WTO published data (2008).
- 2 Current GPA members including Armenia, Aruba, Canada, the European Union and its 28 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), Hong Kong China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Montenegro, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) and the United States.