China lures WTO to brink of procurement deal -sources

GENEVA (Reuters) – Forty-two countries are close to agreeing an upgrade of their Global Procurement Agreement (GPA), a reform that could unlock tens of billions of dollars of commercial opportunities, and many times more if China gets on board, trade sources said yesterday.

The GPA, a voluntary agreement within the World Trade Organization, opens a wide spectrum of public contracts in member countries to bidders from other members, improving competition and efficiency as well as providing massive new markets in areas such as infrastructure and transport.

By upgrading the existing 1996 agreement, its members hope to bring their rules into the internet age, deepen market access and offer special treatment for developing countries, which could persuade China to join — as it has committed to do at some stage — and bring in a vast new pool of contracts.

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