Today, Norway and 40 other countries concluded negotiations on the revision of the WTO agreement on government procurement. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented, “The result is a user-friendly, flexible agreement both for Norwegian suppliers and for government clients.”
The agreement is beneficial for Norwegian suppliers because it gives them greater opportunity to take part in government procurement processes in countries such as the US, Canada, South Korea and Japan. For example the US is now opening up the procurement of most of its telecommunication services to international competition. The new agreement also paves the way for the participation of new WTO members, which will also benefit the Norwegian business sector.
Under the agreement, which is voluntary for WTO members, companies in member countries may submit tenders in government procurement processes in other member countries.
The parties have reached agreement on which public authorities and what types of procurement are to be included. All the parties are now opening up access to their markets.
The agreement also includes improvements to the rules, creating greater openness, predictability and competition in government procurement processes. It will mean equal treatment of local, national and foreign suppliers.
“Openness and transparency in government procurement is an important contribution to the fight against corruption. This is very important for Norway,” said Mr Støre.
The agreement does not address how a country’s public sector is to be organised. The question of whether, and to what extent, the public sector is to produce its own goods and services or purchase them from private sector suppliers will still be decided by each individual country.