UK set to continue in WTO's Government Procurement Agreement

30 November 2018

The UK is set to continue as an independent member of the World Trade Organization's Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) after it leaves the European Union after it secured agreement in principle with the WTO.

Britain's ambassador to the WTO, Julian Braithwaite, tweeted: “I’d like to thank all Parties for their agreement in principle today to the UK’s accession to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement. Process on track.”

He later added: “Delighted the UK’s WTO goods schedule is being circulated today formally to all WTO members for certification. It seeks to replicate the concessions and commitments applicable to the UK as part of the EU today. An important milestone as we prepare for our departure from the EU.”

As part of the GPA agreement 47 WTO members have committed to open up their government procurement markets to each other.

At present the deal covers $1.7trn (€1.5trn) in annual spending, and may grow by about $100bn with Australia's membership agreed last month.

It appears from Braithwaite’s tweets that Britain will be able to continue as a member on the same terms it currently enjoys as part of the EU, which will ensure UK companies can still bid for government work in the US, the EU and Japan.

This was the UK’s goal prior to negotiations and was considered to be an easily achievable part of Brexit.

However, some GPA members, including the US, had threatened to withhold support from the UK for continued membership unless they received more information on public procurement processes post Brexit.

President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the WTO and has described the US’s agreement with the bloc as the “worst deal ever”.

Trump has said WTO judges consistently rule against the US in trade disputes and said the US will withdraw from the bloc unless it “shapes up”.

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