With the addition of Montenegro, 44 WTO Members now open procurement under the GPA.
On July 15, Montenegro became the 16th party to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), following its ratification of the Agreement. The WTO Committee on Government Procurement approved the terms of Montenegro’s accession to the GPA in October and gave it six months to deposit its accession instrument. Montenegro deposited that instrument on June 15, which allowed it to become a party 30 days later. U.S. federal agencies may now purchase goods and services from Montenegro.
Montenegro’s accession to the GPA fulfills a commitment it made in 2012 when it became a WTO member – to initiate negotiations to join the GPA. It commenced negotiations in October 2013 with its application for accession and completed the negotiations a year later.
Montenegro describes the procurement that it is opening under the GPA in coverage schedules available on the WTO website. Its coverage is closely aligned with that of the European Union, in particular with respect to sub-central entities and Other Entities. The EU-led approach bases coverage on categories of sub-central entities and on Other Entities that are engaged in activities in specified sector, and provides indicative lists of the covered entities. In contrast, the U.S. provides definitive lists of its covered entities. The significant elements of Montenegro’s coverage are described below.
Central Government Entities: Montenegro is covering 85 central government entities, including its President, Parliament, Supreme Court and Central Bank, as well as a broad array of ministries, agencies, directorates, administrations and bureaus. Its coverage extends to all subordinated entities of those listed unless they have a separate legal personality. In accord with other GPA parties, Montenegro limits its coverage of the goods purchased by its defense and security entities to non-sensitive and non-warlike materials that it lists.
Sub-central Entities: Montenegro covers sub-central government entities in two categories:
- All sub-central government entities (local self-government units) and subordinated organizations, which extends to the contracting entities of administrative units with populations between 3 million and 7 million, between 800,000 and 3 million and between 150,000 and 800,000 and smaller administrative units such as municipalities.
- All contracting authorities, which are bodies governed by public law, using the same definition as the EU.
Montenegro provides an indicative list of 17 contracting authorities. It also follows the EU in withholding the procurement of services purchased by its sub-central entities from the U.S., until it provides reciprocal access to its sub-central procurement.
Other Entities: With regard to Other Entities, Montenegro covers contracting authorities engaged in activities in six sectors: drinking water, electricity, airports, ports, urban transport and railways. It includes the following indicative list of the contracting authorities and public undertakings:
- Electric Power Company of Montenegro (EPCG)
- Montenegrin Electric Power Transmission System JSC Podgorica
- Montenegrin Electric Energy Market Operator
- Airports of Montenegro
- Railway Infrastructure of Montenegro
- Railway Transport of Montenegro
- Monteput Ltd. Podgorica
- Montecargo JSC Podgorica
- Montenegro Post
- PC Regional Water Supply System for Montenegrin Coast, Budva
- Zeta Energy Ltd. Danilovgrad
Montenegro withholds procurement of these entities from the U.S. in all the sectors, except the electricity sector, until the U.S. provides reciprocal access.
Works Concessions: Montenegro echoes the EU’s coverage of works concessions in the recent revision of the GPA and limits access to seven GPA parties: the EU, Iceland, the Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Norway, the Netherlands on behalf of Aruba, and Switzerland.
USTR Waiver: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative published a Federal Register notice on July 10, waiving discriminatory purchasing requirements, namely the Buy American Act of 1933, for Montenegro. With the waiver, Montenegro is added to the list of designated countries from which federal agencies can purchase goods and services.
Jean Heilman Grier
July 15, 2015