Kazakhstan prepares to negotiate accession to Government Procurement Agreement
GENEVA. KAZINFORM Kazakhstan informed the Committee on Government Procurement at its meeting held at the close of February of the progress it has made to initiate negotiations to join the WTO plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).
The Committee also discussed the ongoing negotiations of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, North Macedonia, Tajikistan and Russia to join the GPA.
Kazakhstan said that it hopes to submit its initial market access offer to the Committee in the near future. The delegation also said that opportunities for foreign bidders to participate in its government procurement market have been broadened by the creation of a new portal for government procurement and the acceptance of electronic forms under a new government procurement law. GPA parties welcomed the announcement and said they look forward to receiving the relevant documentation from Kazakhstan, the WTO’s official website reads.
«Today's discussion on Kazakhstan's recent application for accession is very encouraging», said Carlos Vanderloo of Canada, who was re-elected as the Committee's chairperson at the meeting.
In addition to an initial market access offer, Kazakhstan is required to submit replies to a checklist of issues regarding its government procurement legislation to kick off negotiations.
Kazakhstan, the host of the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference from 8 to 11 June 2020, was granted observer status by GPA parties in October 2016 and submitted its application to join the GPA on 29 November 2019. This is in line with the commitment it made upon joining the WTO in 2015 whereby it would start negotiating its GPA accession within four years of becoming a WTO member.
Parties also welcomed the announcement by Switzerland that its Parliament has adopted the revised GPA and all implementing legislation and that it will subsequently submit its Instrument of Acceptance to the Committee later this year. The objective is to have both the revised GPA and the updated federal and cantonal government procurement legislation enter into force on 1 January 2021. The Chair welcomed this «encouraging» news. Switzerland is the last party that has yet to accept the revised GPA, which entered into force in April 2014.
The GPA is a plurilateral agreement — potentially open to all WTO members but binding only the parties to the Agreement. Each applicant's terms of participation are negotiated with GPA parties and set out in its respective schedule, which contains several annexes defining the party’s commitments with respect to:
the procuring entities whose procurement processes will be open to foreign bidders
the goods, services and construction services open to foreign competition
the threshold values above which procurement activities will be open to foreign competition
exceptions to the coverage.
Currently, 48 WTO members are bound by the Agreement. Australia is the latest member to have acceded to the Agreement in 2019. The GPA aims to open up, in a reciprocal manner and to the extent agreed between WTO members, government procurement markets to foreign competition, and make government procurement more transparent. It provides legal guarantees of non-discrimination for the products, services and suppliers of GPA parties in covered procurement activities, which are currently worth an estimated USD 1.7 trillion annually. Government procurement typically accounts for about 15% of developed and developing countries' economies.