WTO members close to deal on public works worth billions

18th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Members at the World Trade Organization are close to a deal on public works tenders which could unlock tens of billions of dollars in new market access annually.

Negotiations on the agreement, which has been ten years in the making, could be concluded in time for the WTO's ministerial conference in December, said Nicholas Niggli, who chairs the negotiating committee on the issue.

"We believe we have the time to conclude the long-running Government Procurement Agreement negotiations, and the time is precisely during the WTO ministerial," said Niggli, after a meeting on the topic.

Some 95 percent of negotiations have been done, noted Niggli.

At the moment, some 42 economies are signatories of the existing agreement, but several others, including China, are in the queue to join.

Current negotiations are aimed at extending the coverage of the agreement to include more than 200 new ministries, government agencies and other public entities.

In addition, it includes new coverage of telecommunications and offers full access to construction services.

A WTO study taking into account the 42 economies and several others including China and Brazil shows that the new agreement could lead to between $380 and 970 billion of new market access annually.

For the five BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) -- all of which are non-members of the GPA currently -- the amount of potential market access reached between $233 and 596 billion.

Niggli expressed optimism that a deal could be reached by the ministerial meeting which starts December 15.

"I bet on the fact that we will strike a deal," said Niggli.

© 2011 AFP

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