Sat, Dec 06, 2008 - Page 12 News List

GPA application to be approved soon

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The WTO Committee on Government Procurement is expected to formally approve Taiwan’s application to join the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) at its meeting on Tuesday, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said in a statement released on Monday.

“The US is pleased that the long negotiations have been completed and looks forward to joining other GPA signatories in approving Taiwan’s accession to the GPA next week,” USTR spokesman Gretchen Hamel said.

The Office of Trade Negotiations said Taiwan had completed bilateral negotiations on joining the GPA in Dec. 2002, but the process was held back because of cross-strait tensions and other political issues.

The GPA, which currently applies to 40 WTO members, including the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, is a plurilateral WTO agreement that requires its signatories to give national treatment to the goods, services and suppliers of the other signatories, the USTR statement said.

Taiwan, which submitted its final offer to the WTO Secretariat in Geneva last Friday, will become the 41st WTO member to join this agreement once final approval is granted, it said.

The Washington-based trade negotiator said Taiwan’s accession means US firms will gain access to Taiwan’s extensive procurement that will be covered under the GPA, and vice versa.

Taiwan’s government procurement market was valued at more than US$18 billion in 2006 and US$21 billion last year, while the US government procurement market is estimated at more than US$300 billion, it said.

The Office of Trade Negotiations under the Ministry of Economic Affairs said that after six years, the nation will finally be able to fulfill the commitment it made prior to becoming a WTO member in 2002 on signing the GPA.

In a press release dated Nov. 28, the Taipei office, citing the WTO Secretariat’s estimate, said the government procurement market in GPA signatory countries was valued at more than US$5.55 trillion, adding that the budget for the US government’s information technology procurement next year alone was estimated at US$71 billion.

While joining the GPA is expected to help improve the quality of the nation’s public infrastructure projects by attracting investments from international construction companies, the government will also seek to protect domestic industries to a certain extent by allowing foreign companies to only bid for procurement projects above the threshold amount, the Taipei office said.

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