The 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have agreed to opening their procurement contracts to each other as part of the trade deal.
The text of the controversial agreement, which was agreed by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, and Vietnam in October, has now been published by the NZ government on behalf of the nations.
The deal will require its signatories to provide suppliers in other member nations with equal treatment in procurement processes.
Public agencies will also have to publish tender notices which must include the description, conditions of participation, and selection criteria, among others. The conditions can only be limited to financial and legal capacity to deliver, and commercial and technical ability to deliver. Suppliers cannot be excluded just because they have not previously been awarded a contract or has no prior experience in the country.
Signatories will also be barred from creating registration systems that are designed to act as an obstacle or delay to foreign vendors. When using electronic tendering, public agencies will also be required to use systems that are generally available and interoperable.
Nations will also have to have in place an impartial review body to handle supplier complaints if they feel the agreement has been breached.
TPP has prompted protests over many of its provisions by those concerned it will threaten domestic jobs, worker rights and internet freedom, among others, with its supporters arguing it will cut tarrifs and taxes, and boost economic growth.
Commenting on the procurement provisions, US consumer advocacy body Public Citizen said: “The TPP procurement chapter would offshore our tax dollars to create jobs overseas instead of at home by giving firms operating in any TPP nation equal access to many US government procurement contracts, rather than us continuing to give preference to local firms to build and maintain our public libraries, parks, post offices and universities.”
When negotiations were completed in October, US president Barack Obama, said: “This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products.
“If we can get this agreement to my desk, then we can help our businesses sell more Made in America goods and services around the world, and we can help more American workers compete and win.”
The text of the TPP is being translated into French and Spanish, and checked by lawyers. It will then need to be approved by national governments.