The WTO announced that on 17 October 2018, parties to the WTO plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) unanimously approved a decision to welcome Australia as the 48th WTO member to be covered by the Agreement. Australia will officially become a GPA party 30 days after submitting its Instrument of Accession to the WTO’s Director-General.

Australia will accede to the Agreement based on the terms set out in its final market access offer, which all GPA parties approved. This outlines to what extent Australia commits to opening its government procurement market to the current GPA parties. Preliminary calculations suggest that Australia’s overall government procurement markets are worth AUD 110 billion (USD 78 billion), meaning that Australia’s accession will add significantly to the current USD 1.7 trillion worth of government procurement covered by the Agreement.

Australia will submit its Instrument of Accession within a period of one year following the Committee’s decision, after having ratified the decision domestically. Australia initiated negotiations to join the Agreement three years ago, in September 2015.

The GPA aims to open up, in a reciprocal manner and to the extent agreed between WTO members, government procurement markets to foreign competition, and make government procurement more transparent. It provides legal guarantees of non-discrimination for the products, services or suppliers of GPA parties in procurement covered by the Agreement. The GPA is a plurilateral agreement — potentially open to all WTO members and binding only the parties to the Agreement. Currently, 47 WTO members (including the EU and its 28 member states) are bound by the Agreement.