In order to ensure an open, fair and transparent playing field in government procurement, several WTO members have negotiated the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). As a contracting party to the GPA, the United States has reciprocal access to government procurement covered by all GPA members. Under the AMP, the United States provides access to 80 federal departments, authorities, and commissions, including all departments at the executive level, 37 states, and seven national energy administrations, including the Rural Utility Service. This access includes goods, services and construction services. The fundamental objective of the GPA is to open up public procurement between its parties. Following several rounds of negotiations, the GPA parties have opened up procurement activities estimated at $1.7 trillion per year to international competition (i.e. suppliers of GPA parties that provide goods, services or construction services). Signatories to the GPA are required to publish summary notices on procurement opportunities for contracts covered by the agreement. Each member has identified publications in which these possibilities are published. The publications are listed in Annex II (offsite link). It is an agreement between members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to open their markets to each other to the sale of goods and services to governments, often including regional and local governments. The GPA is a so-called plurilateral agreement, which means that it encompasses some, but not all, WTO members. Plurilateral agreements have been a useful way for countries to continue to reduce trade barriers, while WTO-wide trade negotiations have stalled.
The UK expects to be able to join the GPA itself in January 2021, when the transition ends. To be covered by the GPA, public procurement must meet minimum value thresholds. These vary according to the nature of the procuring entity and the contract. The current thresholds are available in the table of thresholds (offline link) published by the WTO. The accession process begins with the submission of an application for membership and has two main aspects: negotiations between the adhering member and the parties to the GPA on the offer of GPA coverage and verification of the compliance of the adhering member`s procurement rules with the requirements of the GPA, for example with regard to transparency, procedural fairness for suppliers and internal audit. Accession to the GPA is limited to WTO members that have expressly signed the GPA or have subsequently acceded to the agreement. WTO members are not required to join the GPA, but the United States strongly encourages all WTO members to participate in this important agreement. Several countries, including China, Russia and the Kyrgyz Republic, are negotiating accession to the GPA. The text of the agreement contains rules that must ensure an open, fair and transparent playing field in public procurement. However, these rules do not automatically apply to all purchasing activities of each party..
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