By Mackenzie C. Babb

15 December 2011

Washington — Just hours before the official opening of the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Geneva, 42 member nations agreed to a deal to improve government procurement procedures by expanding market access and increasing competition for contracts.

“This extremely important deal means better disciplines for awarding government contracts,” said WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy. He announced December 15 that parties to the Government Procurement Agreement concluded negotiations to revise the original 1994 agreement and adopted the new deal in Geneva just before gathering with representatives from each of the 153 WTO member nations to launch the organization’s 8th annual ministerial.

The deal should add between $80 billion and $100 billion to global trade each year initially, and that number is expected to grow, Lamy said.

The deal “means better use of public resources in a moment when, more than ever, the economic crisis calls for fiscal discipline,” Lamy said. The agreement will provide a needed stimulus for the world economy and will apply to “suppliers of infrastructure, public transport, hospital equipment and many other government services.”

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the deal “demonstrates the WTO’s ability through persistence, hard work and a spirit of collaboration to reach agreements that strengthen and clarify rules and expand opportunities through market access.” Read more.