The federal government is lobbying to get Australian exporters guaranteed access to global government procurement markets, including those of the European Union.
Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb has announced the government will work towards joining the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).
Membership of the GPA would secure for local exporters access to the multi-million dollar government procurement markets of 45 economies.
“The GPA is a significant international trade agreement, Mr Robb said. “It covers a government procurement market estimated to be worth over US$1.7 trillion. Australian membership of the GPA will help guarantee our suppliers are on an equal footing with their international competitors when it comes to competing in these markets.”
Current members of the GPA include the EU’s 28 Member States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Taiwan.
“GPA coverage is expected to expand significantly in the future with a number of countries currently in negotiations to join – including China – whose total government procurement market is estimated to be worth $1.5 trillion.”
New Zealand and Montenegro recently concluded GPA membership negotiations, while talks are ongoing with Albania, Georgia, Jordan, Oman, Ukraine, Oman, Moldova and Kyrgyz Republic.
GPA membership would provide legally binding market access for Australian firms to the procurement markets of GPA Members, most significantly the EU and its 28 member states.
This would provide safeguards against any future protectionist measures introduced by GPA parties, while delivering the certainty of a ‘multilateral rules-based system’.
While Australian firms are not automatically disqualified from participation in GPA members’ markets, there are no legal barriers to stop GPA members from excluding Australian firms.
Mr Robb said the agreement would build on the Government’s strong track record of creating and expanding markets for Australian goods and services.
“This year alone we’ve secured landmark trade deals with Japan and South Korea. An agreement with China is finally within reach, but the job is far from over and I’ll continue to pursue a global strategy of economic engagement in order to secure more jobs, economic growth and greater prosperity for all Australians.”
Mr Robb encouraged stakeholders and interested parties to have their say on the Government’s GPA negotiations by lodging a submission at: http://dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/wto-agreement-on-government-procurement.html