[Next posting will be on August 31, 2015]
New Zealand’s accession expands the GPA roster to 17 parties.
On August 12, New Zealand became a party to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), following Montenegro’s accession by a month and extending the GPA’s reach to 45 WTO members. NZ’s terms for accession to the GPA were approved in October 2014 by the WTO Government Procurement Committee, which gave it nine months to ratify the agreement and submit its instrument of accession. On July 13, NZ ratified the GPA, which allowed the GPA to enter into force 30 days later. The procurement that NZ is opening under the GPA is set out in its coverage schedules available on the WTO website. The European Union has imposed certain restrictions on NZ’s access to the procurement that the EU covers under the GPA.
Central Government Entities: New Zealand covers 31 central government entities, including their subordinate agencies. Its list includes 13 ministries, its Treasury, various departments and other entities. For these entities, NZ applies the same thresholds as most of the GPA parties: 130,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) for the procurement of goods and services and five million SDRs for construction services.
Sub-central Government Entities: With respect to sub-central government entities, New Zealand bases its coverage on listed entities, as does the United States and other GPA parties. NZ covers 17 sub-central entities: 11 district health boards (including procurement undertaken through their agent healthAlliance Limited) and seven city or regional councils. Its health boards are responsible for providing or funding the provision of health services in their respective districts. New Zealand limits the coverage of its councils to the procurement of goods, services and construction services relating to transport projects funded, in whole or in part, by the New Zealand Transport Agency. These entities apply a threshold for goods and services of 200,000 SDRs, the same as the EU and most parties; only the U.S. and two other parties apply a higher 355,000 SDRs threshold.
Other Entities: With regard to the coverage of Other Entities, NZ lists 19 entities, which includes agencies, authorities, commissions and corporations. For corporations, it covers:
- Accident Compensation Corporation, (excluding procurement of pension fund management, public insurance and fund placements, investments and financial services related to securities or trading on an exchange);
- Airways Corporation of New Zealand Limited;
- Housing New Zealand Corporation;
- KiwiRail Holdings Limited;
- Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited
- Transpower New Zealand Limited (excluding procurement of electrical stringing services, tower painting services and “projects funded directly by private sector customers where those projects would not be undertaken except for the funding provided by those customers”)
NZ’s coverage of Sport New Zealand adds an unusual exclusion: procurement of goods and services containing confidential information related to enhancing competitive sport performance. For all of its Other Entities, NZ applies a 400,000 SDRs threshold for goods and services, the threshold applied by most parties.
Services: New Zealand has joined the U.S. as the only GPA parties to base coverage of services on a negative list, covering all services purchased by the covered entities, except those explicitly excluded. NZ excludes four categories of services: R&D services, public health services, education services and welfare services. NZ also covers all construction services.
General Notes: NZ is permitted a special use of limited tendering procedures — for unsolicited unique proposals, in accordance with its guidance document, “Unsolicited Unique Proposals – How to deal with uninvited bids” (May 2013).
EU Restrictions on NZ: The EU has indicated its apparent dissatisfaction with NZ’s coverage by restricting its access to European procurement. The restrictions are similar to those the EU imposed on other GPA parties, including the United States. The EU withholds some of the central government entities of its member states from NZ. It also denies NZ access to procurement of two categories of sub-central entities, including smaller local contracting authorities, and to the procurement of utilities engaged in activities related to drinking water, airports and ports, as well as certain urban transport procurement. These restrictions are set out in the October 2014 Committee Decision.
USTR Waiver: Based on the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, the U.S. Trade Representative has waived discriminatory purchasing requirements, namely the Buy American Act of 1933, for New Zealand. The waiver, which was published in the Federal Register on August 12, adds NZ to the list of designated countries from which federal agencies can purchase goods and services.
Jean Heilman Grier
August 12, 2015