Australia is the latest country to signal its intent to join the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).
It said it planned to submit an initial market access offer for GPA accession within the coming months, which will trigger the negotiations on its entry terms.
The announcement was made at a meeting of the WTO's Committee on Government Procurement earlier this month, where progress was also reported on the accession bids of several other pending applicants to the GPA, which allows members to open their government procurement markets to each other.
“Australia enjoys a world-class government procurement system based on the principles of value for money and non-discrimination and is open to competition from foreign suppliers,” Australia told the committee.
At the same meeting, parties to the GPA agreed to accept the requests from Costa Rica and Thailand for observer status in the committee. Thirty-one WTO members now hold observer status and 12 of these are negotiating accession to the GPA, with two - Montenegro and New Zealand - having already completed their accession talks. Both nations were accepted as a party to the GPA last October.
Montenegro said it had successfully concluded its domestic ratification process for the GPA, and expected to submit the GPA instrument of acceptance to the WTO in the coming days.
New Zealand also said that its parliament has approved the GPA and the domestic ratification process was now being finalised, with the country on track to deposit its instrument of acceptance by the July 29 deadline.
Armenia notified the committee it has ratified the revised GPA, which came into force in April last year. South Korea and Switzerland are the only two parties to the GPA that have not yet ratified the revised agreement.
South Korea said it was still waiting for a review of the agreement by its constitutional court, which it described as a procedural step. Switzerland noted that ratification was linked to changes in its domestic procurement rules, which still required review at both the federal and sub-federal levels.
Parties welcomed the submission by Ukraine in May of a draft final offer and said they had no remaining issues with Kiev on the proposed membership terms. Tajikistan told the committee it was still reviewing questions posed by parties regarding its initial offer for GPA accession submitted in February and would get back with replies as soon as possible. Moldova said it has sorted out remaining concerns with parties on its GPA membership terms and believed the negotiations on its accession had come to a successful end.
China's delegation explained the changes in its fifth revised GPA accession offer and urged parties to take a practical attitude towards it and accelerate the accession process. The Kyrgyzstan said it had planned to submit a new offer for GPA accession at the June meeting but this had been delayed due to the recent resignation of its government and its accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). It would do so as quickly as possible.