It’s all a bit technical but we have seen some legislative changes in the last few weeks to ensure that third countries still have access to UK markets under the procurement rules following Brexit.
It is probably just as easy to say it’s all very much “as you were” pre-Brexit because much of the amendments needed were just to get us back in the position we were in before we left the EU…!
The full story is that new regulations were made by Parliament on 17 May to amend the UK’s procurement regulations (namely the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016).
In a nutshell, these amendments seek to replace any references in the procurement regulations to the GPA – this is World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Government Procurement, an international treaty that has the aim of opening up procurement opportunities and making procurement exercises open, fair and transparent.
Pre-Brexit the UK, as an EU member state, was one of 48 parties* subject to the GPA. On leaving the EU, the UK signed the GPA in its own right, and the recent legislative changes were made to reflect this change across the existing regulations.
The new regulations – called The Public Procurement (Agreement on Government Procurement) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 – also amend the existing regulations to include a requirement that UK contracting authorities are required to treat economic operators from all GPA parties, and any other countries with which the EU has an international agreement, as favourably as economic operators from the UK.
* The parties to the GPA are: Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Moldova, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK, USA, all EU member states and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.