Tuesday 17 September 2019

UK closes in on new trade deal with WTO

Stock photo: PA Wire/PA Images
Stock photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Tom Miles

The United Kingdom said it had secured agreement in principle yesterday to continue as an independent member of the World Trade Organization's Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) after it leaves the European Union.

The GPA is an agreement between 47 WTO members who have committed to open up their government procurement markets to each other. The current deal covers $1.7trn (€1.5trn) in annual spending, which may grow by about $100bn with Australia's membership agreed last month.

"The UK thanks all of the GPA parties for having engaged so constructively with us in recent weeks and for the consensus today for the agreement in principle around the UK's accession to the GPA on the basis of our final market access offer of October 3," Britain's ambassador to the WTO, Julian Braithwaite, told Reuters.

Members of the agreement have to buy their way in by opening up their procurement markets sufficiently to persuade the rest of the club to reciprocate.

Britain's offer to continue as a member replicates its current terms as part of the EU. Staying in the GPA is important so that UK companies can still bid for government work in the US, the EU and Japan.

Current members also have an incentive to keep Britain in the GPA, which Australia is joining and China is hoping to.

But some GPA members had withheld support, demanding more information and potentially threatening UK inclusion, which many experts had seen as one of the most straightforward bits of Brexit.

Reuters

Irish Independent

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