Government contracts outside the EU
The EU advocates open international public procurement markets both
- in the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement
- and through bilateral and regional agreements
The EU has concluded many international agreements with the purpose of securing access to international procurement markets for EU companies. The most important of these is the plurilateral WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).
The 2012 WTO Plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA)
The EU member countries have joined the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). This is the main international agreement related to public procurement. It is plurilateral because not all WTO Members have joined.
The other 19 countries in the GPA are:
Armenia, Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Moldova, the Netherlands with respect to Aruba, Norway, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States.
Other WTO members are negotiating accession to the GPA.
The GPA has two main elements
- procedures and rules on how a contract should be tendered
- lists of the procuring entities and types of procurement that each country has agreed to open up to foreign business competition
Find out more about tendering opportunities through the integrated Government Procurement Market Access Information Resource (e-GPA) portal of the WTO.
This provides information on coverage, including on the applicable thresholds indicating the value above which the GPA rules apply.
- overview of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement
Bilateral trade agreements
Besides the GPA, the EU secures business opportunities for European companies through its trade deals. Many bilateral trade agreements contain elaborate chapters on Government Procurement, through which parties mutually open up their procurement markets.
In some cases, where the other party already is a party to the GPA, these bilateral agreements contain commitments that reach further than those in the GPA.
In other cases, these bilateral agreements constitute the unique mutual commitment relating to the mutual opening of procurement markets.
Note, however, that even where there is no commitment for a given procurement procedure, an EU company may still decide to submit a bid.
The absence of a commitment only means that the EU company has no entitlement to participate in the procedure on an equal footing with domestic bidders, but usually that does not prevent the contracting authority from receiving and considering bids from, or awarding a contract to, an EU supplier.
Read more about public procurement in EU trade deals:
- information about public procurement under specific trade agreements in the Markets
- public procurement in trade agreements
Assess your eligibility to participate in a foreign public procurement tender
To find out if you are entitled to participate in a given government procurement tender outside the EU use the My Trade Assistant for Procurement tool.
My Trade Assistant for Procurement aims to help European companies assess if they are entitled to participate in a public tender outside the EU. The assessment requires input by the user of information that is usually contained in the tender notice: the procuring entity, the subject matter and the estimated value of the procurement.
The tool currently allows the assessment of government procurement tenders from Canada (based both on the GPA and the bilateral CETA), Japan and USA. Further countries will be integrated into the tool in due course.