The UK’s accession to the World Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement (‘GPA’) has been approved in the last few days. The UK has, up to this point, been covered under the GPA as a member of the European Union (EU). The impact of the UK being approved is that when the UK leaves the EU following a transition agreement or even in a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, the UK will become a party to the GPA in its own right and UK suppliers therefore will still have a right to bid on the majority of major government contracts across the EU and the other countries that are signed to the GPA.
Whilst this will not provide exactly the same access as UK suppliers currently enjoy across the EU (for example - health services, legal services and low threshold contracts are not covered), it does mean that UK suppliers will still be able to actively bid for major government contracts across the EU and beyond. It will, of course, also work vice-versa giving members of the EU and other GPA countries the right to bid for major government contracts in the UK.
Even with access to the GPA, suppliers will still need to consider how potential new factors such as customs and tariffs will impact pricing for such bids going forward.
Please get in touch if you would like further information on this or other issues concerning public procurement opportunities.