Effective August 12, 2015, New Zealand will become the 45th country to join the World Trade Organization’s (“WTO”) Government Procurement Agreement (“GPA”).  As we have previously discussed, this plurilateral agreement promotes open, fair, and transparent competition in the government procurement markets of participating countries.  Importantly, the GPA requires member countries to treat suppliers of goods and services in other member countries no less favorably than they treat domestic suppliers in all procurement transactions covered by the agreement.  In addition, member countries must maintain transparent and fair government procurement laws, regulations, and procedures. The WTO estimates the value of covered government procurements at $1.7 trillion annually.

New Zealand is one of two countries (along with Montenegro) to join the GPA since a revised version of the agreement expanding the covered procurement opportunities took effect in April 2014.  As a result, New Zealand suppliers and contractors now will have better access to government contract opportunities from the other participating countries.  With respect to U.S. Government contracting opportunities, for example, GPA accession means that New Zealand will become a “designated country” under the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”).  In procurements subject to the TAA, including the procurement of products under General Services Administration (“GSA”) Schedule contracts, government agencies may only acquire end products that are manufactured or substantially transformed in the U.S. or a designated country.  Thus, becoming a “designated country” under the TAA should open the door for New Zealand suppliers and contractors to increased opportunities down the road.

The current GPA signatories are:  Armenia, Canada, the European Union (and its 28 member states — Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, the Netherlands with respect to Aruba, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), and the United States.

Ten additional WTO members are in the process of negotiating their accession, including China and Ukraine, and we will continue to monitor these negotiations.