Agreement on Government Procurement

Australia will become the 48th member of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement in May 2019.

What is the WTO GPA?

The Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) is a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement that opens government procurement markets between members who have acceded to the agreement.

Greater opportunities for Australian businesses

As a member of the GPA, Australian businesses of all sizes will have reciprocal, legally bound access to the government procurement markets of the 47 current GPA members worth around A$2.3 trillion each year.  The European Union and its 28 member states, including Germany, France and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States, Canada, Norway, Japan, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei are all members of the GPA. Australian businesses will have improved access to these markets through the GPA.    

Membership of the GPA will continue to grow, opening up more markets. Australia will also have access to the markets of future GPA members. Nine additional parties are currently in the process of acceding to the GPA, including China whose total procurement market alone is estimated to be worth up to US$2.5 trillion.

Australia’s accession to the GPA ensures Australian businesses are not at a competitive disadvantage relative to businesses from other GPA members.

Under the GPA, Australian businesses will have significantly expanded access to be able to bid for government procurement opportunities internationally. New access to markets were Australia does not have a current free trade agreements, as well as expanded access that builds upon existing free trade agreement commitments. For example, Australian suppliers will have legally bound access to procurement opportunities in seven additional US states, such as Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin, compared to the current access under the Australia-United States FTA.

This includes opportunities in areas of strength for Australia, such as financial services, accounting, auditing, management consulting, information and telecommunications related services, architecture, engineering, and environmental protection services, education, insurance and construction services.

Benefits are not just limited services. Australia’s areas of export strengths in goods such as health and pharmaceutical supplies, water purification and sewage treatment equipment, and environmental goods, will also gain new opportunities. 

Businesses can access international government procurement opportunities online

Details of the opportunities for Australian businesses to participate in the GPA’s A$2.3 trillion market are available on the WTO e-GPA Portal.

The e-GPA Portal also provides details on how to access procurement opportunities in each GPA member market.

Continuing to support Australian businesses to grow and prosper

The Australian Government provides support for Australian importers and exporters through the Australian Trade and Investment Commission. You can also access government grants and programs through the Grants and Assistance Programs finder.

Australia will continue to have the flexibility to protect our national interests, including exceptions for national security, the economic and social advancement of our Indigenous peoples, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

The GPA requires no changes to Commonwealth procurement policies or programs that support Australian businesses, including the Indigenous Procurement Policy. Local businesses and jobseekers will also continue to benefit through Australian government procurement contracts.

Australia’s GPA Accession

The Australian Government announced Australia’s bid to accede to the GPA on 2 June 2015. Australia’s final offer was submitted to members on 7 March 2018, and formally accepted by the WTO GPA Committee on 17 October 2018.

The domestic treaty making process commenced on 28 November 2018, when the Australian Government tabled the text of the GPA, the terms of Australia’s accession to the GPA, and the National Interest Analysis. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties recommended the Australian Government take binding treaty action to bring the GPA in to force on 22 March 2019, following a public inquiry including hearings on 11 February 2019.

On 5 April 2019, Australia submitted its instrument of accession to the WTO. The GPA will be in force for Australia on 5 May 2019, meaning Australian businesses can access opportunities under the GPA from this date.  

Accession to the GPA reinforces Australia’s support for the multilateral trading system and the importance of trade rules. Australia’s accession to the GPA demonstrates the commercially meaningful outcomes that the multilateral system can provide for its exporters.

Where to find more information on Australia’s accession to the GPA

Last Updated: 8 April 2019

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