The Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) – originally negotiated during the Tokyo Round – was renegotiated for the second time during the Uruguay Round. It is one of the WTO's so-called Plurilateral Agreements, in that its disciplines apply only to those WTO Members that have signed it. In contrast to most of the other Tokyo Round codes – e.g., the agreements on technical barriers to trade (standards), import licensing, customs valuation, subsidies, and antidumping – the GPA could not be 'multilateralized'. With the reintroduction of agriculture and textiles and clothing into the GATT, procurement has therefore become the major 'hole' in the coverage of the GATT.
The main objective of the GPA has always been – and remains – to subject government procurement to international competition. To accomplish this objective, the Tokyo Round GPA extended the GATT obligations of national treatment, MFN and transparency to the tendering procedures of government entities. The trade-off for such far-reaching obligations, however, was a restrictive coverage, insofar as the GPA applies only to those entities included on the schedules submitted by signatory nations. The renegotiation of the GPA during the Uruguay Round focused on further expansion of its coverage, strengthening of its enforcement provisions, and addressing the factors perceived by developing countries that inhibited them from signing the Agreement. These constraints related both to the substantive provisions of the GPA and to the 'conditionality' imposed by members concerning the entity offers made by nonsignatories when negotiating accession. The main objectives in terms of coverage were to extend the entity coverage to include sub-central and quasi-governmental bodies, and to cover procurement of telecommunications, heavy electrical and transportation equipment, as well as government purchases of services.
Bernard Hoekman & Petros C. Mavroidis,
The World Trade Organization's Agreement on Government Procurement: Expanding Disciplines, Declining Membership?,
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. WPS1429
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