WTO seals deal to open up government procurement market

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Members of the World Trade Organization on Thursday reached an agreement to widen a deal on public work contracts that could unlock up to 100 billion euros-worth of new market access.

"The deal opens new access on government procurement between the signatories," said Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO.

The accord boosts a public tender market worth 600 billion euros, up from 500 billion euros previously, and includes new coverage of industries such as telecommunications as well as offering full access in construction services.

The figures are based on the 42 countries who are current signatories of the existing government procurement agreement.

A separate WTO study, which includes several other countries plus China and Brazil, shows that the new agreement could lead to up to $970 billion of new market access annually.

For the five major emerging economies -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa who are not signatories of the current accord on government procurement -- the amount of potential market access could be as high as $596 billion.

EU internal market and services commissioner Michel Barnier said that the deal is a "win-win" solution.

US trade representative Ron Kirk also welcomed the deal, adding that he "hoped the result would have a dynamic effect for other issues being negotiated at the WTO."

© 2011 AFP

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