On May 24, the Executive Yuan Council passed the revised Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), which was confirmed on March 30 by the Committee on Government Procurement under the World Trade Organization (WTO). This agreement will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for ratification.
The WTO's Committee on Government Procurement started a new round of negotiations in 1997 to improve upon the previous version of GPA (1994 Agreement) and expand the mutual access of its signatories to each other's markets. Since joining the GPA in July 2009, Taiwan has been actively engaged in these negotiations. On December 15, 2011, a consensus on the revised agreement was reached at a ministerial-level meeting of the Committee on Government Procurement. The parties agreed to acknowledge the relevant legal documents for the agreement by the end of March, after which they would sign the new, revised GPA.
The Executive Yuan indicated that Lin Yi-fu, Taiwan's WTO Ambassador, participated in the March 30 meeting, during which signatories to the GPA agreed to seek prompt acceptance of the amended agreement, appendices and annexes within their respective jurisdictions as soon as possible.
Since the revised GPA concerns important matters of state and citizens' rights and duties, it is a treaty according to Article 3 of the Regulations Governing the Processing of Treaties and Agreements. As such, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Construction Commission submitted the documents to the Executive Yuan Council for discussion pursuant to Article 9 of the regulations.
The main revisions to the GPA are summarized as follows:
1. Protocol: Signatories agree to replace the 1994 Agreement with the revised Text and Coverage. In addition, this Protocol shall enter into force for those Parties to the 1994 Agreement that have deposited their respective instruments of acceptance thereof, on the 30th day following such deposit by two thirds of the Parties to the 1994 Agreement.
2. Text: New rules include (1) the adoption of electronic tools in bidding and tendering; (2) allowing procuring entities to exclude a supplier for reasons such as failure to meet contractual obligations; and (3) shortening bidding periods.
3. Coverage: Some signatories agree to expand access to their government procurement markets by increasing the number of entities applicable to the agreement and lowering the thresholds for bidding.