US considers blocking UK from global procurement agreement

UK US EU NEWSUS considers blocking UK from global procurement agreement

The UK has confirmed that it is looking at rejoining the 46-strong group of nations in the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), but is facing disruption from the US, which is considering blocking its return.

According to reports, the GPA enables the UK to access a marketplace worth nearly $2tn worldwide, once it has left the EU next year.

However, although the UK has admitted that it is reapplying and wants to be able to work in different markets post-Brexit, the US has dismissed its current application as outdated, and will need to be updated in order for it to stand any chance of admission.

The setback will be seen as somewhat of an embarrassment to the UK, which is hoping to open up new avenues to its key businesses, such as Rolls-Royce and Serco, which would lose the ability to access procurement markets if this move was stymied.

Ahead of a meeting next Wednesday, UK officials are hoping that they will be able to get provisional acceptance on admission to the GPA, though any one country is able to block the move.

At the centre of the UK’s argument is that it should be regarded as a special case given that it is technically already a GPA member – it just does not access it individually while in the trading bloc with the EU. It is therefore asking for expedited approval to push the process along.

However, since the UK never officially ratified its membership as a lone state, it is expected that it will have to do so once it leaves the EU.

Murmurs from officials present within the process believe that there are two additional members aside from the US that have some concerns, and are likely to veto the vote next week.

In a statement, the UK’s WTO ambassador Julian Braithwaite is expected to say that he wants to ensure that all “parties can continue to benefit from the current level of access to the UK’s market”.


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