GENEVA--The 42 parties to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) of the World Trade Organization on Dec. 15 agreed on a draft revision to expand the GPA's coverage of public institutions, which is expected to boost the number of international bids for public work projects.
The GPA sets rules on opening up opportunities to foreign businesses on nondiscriminatory terms to bid for public works projects offered by central and local governments.
Ministers from the 42 parties agreed on the revision on the sidelines of a WTO ministerial conference that opened Dec. 15 in Geneva.
The draft revision stated which institutions each member country is required to open up.
Japan will open up large-scale bids at seven ordinance-designated major cities, including Saitama, Shizuoka and Sakai.
According to Joe Nakano, a parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs and a member of the Japanese delegation, Japan agreed with the European Union to continue "sincere discussions" on the possible inclusion of the East Japan Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co.
Japan has maintained that these three entities should be left outside the GPA's coverage, but the European Union remained opposed.
The three Japan Railways group companies were not included in the draft revision.
The United States will expand the coverage of its federal government institutions. South Korea will open up bids at some of its local governments.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy and other officials told reporters at a news conference that the revised GPA is expected to expand the market access coverage by $80 billion-$100 billion (6.2 trillion yen-7.7 trillion yen) annually.
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